Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder has been dealing with claims of widespread sexual harassment throughout his organization (including the cheerleading squad), but the sexual harassment reportedly goes beyond Snyder’s football team.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that an unidentified female employee of Snyder’s Original Americans Foundation accused executive director Gary Edwards of persistent sexual harassment in 2014. A brief internal investigation apparently found no evidence, but after she filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the team paid her a settlement.
Uncomfortable questions, unwanted gifts
Snyder founded the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation in 2014 in response to increasing pressure to change his football team’s name. (The name of the foundation has been changed to the Washington Football Team Original Americans Foundation.) He appointed Edwards, former secret service agent and chief executive of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association, to run it.
Later the same year, a female employee wrote a letter to the team’s single human resources staffer accusing Edwards of touching her in “offensive and unwelcome” ways, giving her expensive gifts and asking her personal questions that made her uncomfortable. She returned the gifts, which included an $849 Coach suitcase and a $600 pair of cowboy boots, to the team, but took photos that included the price tags.
The foundation’s only other female employee, who told the Post that Edwards also harassed her, said she noticed that Edwards gave them clerical tasks to work on, while the foundation’s male employee was given substantive legal assignments.
When the internal investigation was opened, the second female employee said she was called to a meeting and asked about the accusations and Edwards’ conduct. She felt uncomfortable sharing her experience with Edwards because one of Snyder’s top advisers, Karl Schreiber, was heavily involved in the meeting, despite not holding an official job with the team or the foundation. Schreiber reportedly pushed back on every accusation against Edwards and appeared to be there to defend Edwards.
The female employee who wrote the letter was told that no one corroborated her sexual harassment claims, and she could either drop it or resign with severance and sign a non-disclosure agreement. Records obtained by the Post show that she filed a claim with the EEOC and eventually got a settlement from the team.
Snyder is not accused of being directly involved in any of these proceedings, beyond hiring Edwards and presumably tasking Schreiber with looking out for the interests of Snyder and the team.
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