The House Oversight Committee is taking a new step in its efforts to learn about the NFL’s investigation into a toxic culture within the Washington Football Team.
The committee announced Thursday that it will hold a full-committee “roundtable” on the issue on Capitol Hill next week, where some of the women who participated in the investigation will share their experiences and answer questions from members of Congress.
The event will take place at 10 am on Feb. 3 – one day after the WFT is set to announce its new team name.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that not only did the team fail to protect employees, but the NFL went to great lengths to prevent the truth about this toxic work environment from coming to light,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
“The NFL’s decision to cover up these abuses raises serious questions about its commitment to setting workplace standards that keep employees safe. I commend these victims for their bravery in coming forward to share their stories.”
Ex-WFT employees Emily Applegate, Melanie Coburn, Rachel Engleson, Ana Nunez and Brad Baker are scheduled to participate in the roundtable.
No representatives from the team or the NFL are currently expected to attend.
Though the roundtable falls short of a full-on Congressional hearing, it is a sign of the Congress’ continued interest in the issue – and it could ramp up pressure on the NFL. The ex-employees who are scheduled to participate have been extremely critical of the league’s handling of the WFT probe – which, in a departure from precedent, did not result in a written report.
“Our clients look forward to sharing their experiences directly with the committee and continuing to fight for transparency and accountability,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent 40 former WFT employees, said in a statement.
“In pursuing this investigation, Congress will send a clear message to all employers that the rights of women to work in an environment free from harassment and abuse will not be undermined in service to the rich and powerful.”
The WFT investigation centered around allegations of workplace misconduct and sexual harassment within the team. It wrapped up last summer, with the NFL only offering a brief summary of the findings and levying a $10-million fine against the team. Owner Daniel Snyder also agreed to temporarily cede control of the team to his wife, Tanya.
Months later, the WFT probe came under renewed scrutiny after vulgar emails sent by Jon Gruden, which were uncovered in the investigation, became public and led to his resignation. The House Committee subsequently took up in interest in the issue, formally requesting documents from the NFL by a November deadline.
When the deadline passed, the committee indicated the NFL still hadn’t turned over some of the documents it had requested.
Contact Tom Schad at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.