New allegations against Snyder during the hearing

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New allegations of sexual harassment surfaced Thursday about Washington Commander teammate Daniel Snyder during a congressional roundtable discussion examining the team’s “toxic workplace” and what some members of Congress call the NFL’s “disguise.”

Tiffani Johnston, a former marketing and events coordinator for the team, told a congressional committee that she was “strategically” placed next to Snyder at a working dinner “not to discuss business, but to allow him, Dan Snyder, to to put my hand on my thigh under the table. “

“I learned that job survival meant I had to continue my conversation with another colleague instead of shouting Dan Snyder out right at that point,” Johnston continued. “I also learned later in the evening how to laugh awkwardly when Dan Snyder aggressively pushed me towards his limousine with his hand on my loins and encouraged me to drive with him to my car. I learned how to keep saying no. , even though there was a situation I learned that the only reason Dan Snyder removed his hand from my back and stopped pushing me toward his limousine was that his lawyer intervened and said “Dan, Dan, that’s a bad idea. Bad idea, Dan. “I learned to get away from Dan’s grip while his lawyer distracted him.”

In an email statement from the team, Snyder again apologized for past irregularities that took place in his organization, but denied the new allegations.

“I have acknowledged and apologized several times in the past for the misconduct that took place on the team and the injury suffered by some of our valued employees,” he said. “I apologize again today for this behavior and fully support the people who have fallen victim and come forward to tell their stories.

“While past behavior on the team was unacceptable, the accusations against me personally in today’s roundtable discussion – many of whom are well over 13 years old – are outright lies. I unequivocally deny having participated in such behavior at any time and with respect for any person. “

An NFL spokesman told ESPN in an email: “The NFL is reviewing and will consider Ms. Johnston’s allegations, as we would do with any other new allegations of workplace dishonesty at Washington Commanders. We will decide on any further action as needed. “

Johnston said the incident took place in either 2005 or 2006 at the Oceanaire restaurant in downtown Washington. A letter from Jason Friedman, another former employee, was presented at the round table stating that he had seen Snyder try to steer Johnston into the limousine.

After the roundtable, Johnston said she had not shared the incident with Beth Wilkinson, the lawyer hired to conduct the league’s internal investigation, for fear of retaliation from Snyder.

Johnston explained how she and her husband decided she should now tell Congress about her experiences because the report on the NFL’s internal investigation “has been brushed under the rug and there is no transparency. He and I made the decision that it was on It was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do, as difficult as it was. “

In response, the NFL spokesman told ESPN: “We understand how difficult it is for anyone to come forward to tell their story and respected Ms. Johnston’s decision not to participate in the investigation led by independent attorney Beth Wilkinson.”

Johnston’s testimony also claimed that Snyder demanded that an unedited image of Johnston wearing lingerie for a promotional calendar be altered, enlarged and sent to his office.

“I learned that this claim was made urgently because they knew the graphic designer was getting ready to photoshop my personal areas before the editing approval preceded all senior VPs and Dan Snyder for approval,” she said.

Johnston was one of five women who presented stories of alleged sexual harassment and discrimination to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which has been investigating the team since last fall.

“The NFL is now complicit in this scandal,” Melanie Coburn, a former marketing director for the team, told Congress. “Ten months, more than 120 witnesses and nothing. [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell’s claim that he was trying to protect us is outrageous and cowardly. The public optics of his care are appalling. Goodell betrayed any woman who was subjected to harassment and abuse on the Washington football team. “

The NFL spokesman replied, “Today’s testimony underscores that all employees deserve a workplace free of harassment of any kind and where they feel safe reporting fraud.”

Most of the Republicans in attendance expressed varying degrees of sympathy for the women, but argued that Congress should not be in the process of investigating a private company. Many Republicans declared that women’s stories belong to the human resources department or the justice system, not Congress.

“The witnesses here have bet that we are doing something and nothing is going to happen as a result of this and that is cruel,” the rep said. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina.

But Democrats in charge of the investigation disagreed, saying they were exploring legislation that would prevent not only the NFL, but all businesses, from using confidentiality agreements and confidentiality agreements to cover up allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, who is leading the investigation on behalf of the Democrats, said: “Mr. Snyder has used confidentiality agreements to silence employees who have experienced sexual harassment and other abuses in the workplace. He has made it difficult for employees. to stand up for fear of retaliation. “

The former employees confirmed that they were all required to sign confidentiality agreements when they first started working for the team, and for some when they left the team.

Krishnamoorthi said the NFL continues to provide information requested by Congress in October, but noted that there are more than 650,000 emails and documents related to the NFL’s internal investigation. He declined to give much detail about what the NFL has not yet submitted, but said the league has not reversed Wilkinson’s report or an alleged video of female employees changing clothes that were recorded without their permission.

One of the more controversial moments during the roundtable discussion occurred when Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Virginia, began apologizing to the women for being “sacrificed again,” which got rep. John Comer, R-Kentucky, to interrupt him several times.

As the ballad subsided, Connolly told her congressional colleagues: “This is a lousy tale of power, greed and money. And you know we saw the name change yesterday. But until this pervasive culture of abuse and impunity ends, it is nothing. lipstick on a pig. “

Connolly was wearing a burgundy-and-gold T-shirt under her jacket that read “Release the Report.” He said Coburn had given it to him before the hearing, and many of the women wore similar shirts as they left the hearing room.

Connolly said Congress has the authority to conduct this study for several reasons, including giving the NFL what he called “unique tax status.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, also talked about the NFL’s tax status, stating that the NFL brought in $ 8 billion last year, or about $ 250 million per year. team.

“We have to look really closely at it to determine if it is really eligible for tax exemption,” she told her colleagues.

Wasserman Schultz called Thursday’s hearing an “opening salvo” and told the team’s former staff that she and other members investigating the team “will stick to this as glue.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, Johnston said she is a registered Republican and called the party’s response “disappointing”.

“I could read the lines through. This was planned in advance, and it was clearly political, and unfortunately this is the world we live in right now. But we are human, and Republican women and democratic women are all affected in this way. “So it’s really a dual policy issue.”

In a statement released after the Round Table, attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, representing the six witnesses who testified and over 40 former Commanders staff, said Thursday’s case was “an important first step in keeping the Washington Football Team and jobs across the country, responsible for the mistreatment of female employees. “

“In light of overwhelming evidence that WFT leaders and Dan Snyder have abused female staff for decades with impunity, it is time for Congress to demand transparency and accountability. We are eager to continue working with the committee to keep the NFL and Dan Snyder responsible and to work towards a fairer workplace for employees, “Banks and Katz said in the statement.

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