NFL fines WFT $10 million; Tanya Snyder to take over day-to-day operations


The NFL has fined the Washington Football Team $10 million as a result of attorney Beth Wilkinson's nearly year-long investigation into the organization's workplace culture.

As a result of Wilkinson's investigation — launched last summer, shortly after a Washington Post report chronicled decades of sexual harassment allegations within the organization — the NFL has determined that the organization will suffer no suspensions and no loss of draft picks.

One can now draw a clear line between the league's findings and Washington's announcement earlier in the week on Tuesday, when the organization decided that team owner Dan Snyder's wife, Tanya Snyder, would become co-CEO to her husband.

(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story mentioned that the NFL fined Dan Snyder $10 million, when in fact the NFL fined the Washington Football Team $10 million. A representative from a third-party agency — working with the Washington Football Team on "non-football communications" — requested the story be corrected to reflect this change.)

According to the New York Times, in addition to the organization being fined $10 million, Dan Snyder will also "temporarily remove himself from day-to-day business operations of the club, ceding that control to his wife and new co-chief executive, Tanya Snyder."

Dan Snyder will continue to attend games, the NYT adds, and "continue to work on long-term projects, including searching for a new team name and new stadium."

Or, as the NFL put it: "As co-CEO, Tanya Snyder will assume responsibilities for all day-to-day team operations and represent the club at all league meetings and other league activities for at least the next several months. Dan Snyder will concentrate on a new stadium plan and other matters. All senior executives of the club, including Dan and Tanya Snyder, will undertake comprehensive training in workplace conduct and related issues (including bullying, diversity and inclusion, harassment, LGBTQ issues, microaggression, and unconscious bias, among other topics)."

The NFL also noted that, based on Wilkinson's findings "and other information brought to his attention," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided, "in addition to paying all fees and expenses associated with Wilkinson's investigation, the club will pay $10 million, which will be used to support organizations committed to character education, anti-bullying, healthy relationships and related topics."

Goodell also determined that Washington will fund programs directed "more broadly at improving the workplace, particularly for women and other underrepresented groups," along with training and development programs throughout the league."

"We will solicit recommendations from the club, particularly for organizations based in the Washington metropolitan area," the league states.

Additionally, the NFL announced that the Washington Football Team will be subject to the following semi-annual reporting obligations for the next two years (through July 31, 2023):

1) the club's progress in implementing each of Wilkinson's workplace recommendations, with the first report due by July 31, 2021;

2) the results of the culture and other surveys recommended; and

3) all complaints, including those made at exit interviews or post-employment, that reasonably present workplace-related issues of bullying, discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation, whether made anonymously or by an identified party, as well as how the club addressed those complaints. Based on these semi-annual reports, the league office will be permitted to conduct follow-up inquiries with any workplace consultants the club has engaged.

The organization will be required to report these findings "through an independent third party" which is "selected by the club and approved by the league office."

The NFL also notes that any "material failure to implement these recommendations or to otherwise comply fully" with these obligations may result in "an extension of the reporting period or other discipline."

In a statement, Goodell said: "I want to thank Beth Wilkinson and her team for conducting a thorough and independent review of the Washington club's workplace culture and conduct and providing both the club and me with a series of thoughtful recommendations based on her findings."

"Beth and her team performed their work in a highly professional and ethical manner," Goodell added. "Most importantly, I want to thank the current and former employees who spoke to Beth and her team; they provided vital information that will help ensure that the workplace environment at the club continues to improve. It is incredibly difficult to relive painful memories. I am grateful to everyone who courageously came forward."

The league commended both Dan and Tanya Snyder for making a series of significant organizational changes in recognition of their workplace culture being "deficient," which the league says needed to be "significantly improved to enable football and other club employees to perform at their full potential."

Among these changes noted was the hiring of head coach Ron Rivera (a hiring made a good seven months before the investigation began).

"These steps included the hiring of Head Coach Ron Rivera and the decision to replace a number of top club executives," the league stated. "Additional and more widespread changes have been made over the past year, and Wilkinson's review identified several strong and positive steps taken by ownership over the past year to improve workplace conduct and culture in Washington. None of the managers or executives identified as having engaged in misconduct is still employed at the club."

The league also commended the Snyders for hiring "a new, highly qualified and diverse team of executives on both the football and business sides of the club. These include club president Jason Wright, Chief HR Officer Andre Chambers, General Counsel Damon Jones, Chief Financial Officer Greg Rush, Senior Vice President of External Engagement and Communication Julie Jensen, and Senior Vice President of Media and Content Julie Donaldson, as well as Coach Rivera and General Manager Martin Mayhew."

"Overall, the new executive team shows an impressive commitment to diversity, with a substantial number of women and people of color in leadership roles," the league goes on to state. "This leadership team appears to be both respected within the community and genuinely committed to changing the workplace environment and is doing so with the full support of the Snyders. In addition, the cheerleader program is now under the leadership of Petra Pope, who has replaced the all-female squad with what Pope has described as 'an inclusive, co-ed, diverse, athletic' dance team that will no longer pose for calendars."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images