- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Two attorneys representing more than 40 former Washington employees called for Commanders owner Dan Snyder to sell the team in the wake of Phoenix Suns and Mercury owner Robert Sarver announcing Wednesday that he plans to seek buyers for his franchises following a workplace misconduct scandal. 

Lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in a statement that the NFL community needs to “demonstrate the same outrage and moral strength” as those in the NBA did upon news last week that the basketball league suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million.

The NBA’s initial punishment of Sarver drew intense criticism from stars such as the Lakers’ LeBron James and the Suns’ Chris Paul, while the head of the players’ union called for Sarver to resign. PayPal, whose brand appears on Phoenix’s jerseys, said it would not renew its sponsorship after next season if Sarver remained in charge. A minority Suns owner also called for Sarver’s ouster. 

An NBA investigation found Sarver repeated a racial slur at least five times “when recounting the statements of others” as well as engaged in “instances of inequitable conduct toward female employees” over his 17 years with the Suns and Mercury.

Banks and Katz said that Sarver’s intention to sell marks an “important step” to hold owners “accountable” for their actions.

“It is important to note, however, that it was the overwhelming pressure from players, the team’s co-owner, and corporate sponsors that forced accountability for Sarver’s racist and sexist behavior — and not the NBA Commissioner,” Banks and Katz said. “The NFL Commissioner has similarly failed to take meaningful action in response to the serious allegations of sexual harassment and assault, as well as financial improprieties, brought against the Washington Commanders and owner Dan Snyder. 

“We now need the NFL community, including players, owners, and corporate sponsors, to demonstrate the same outrage and moral strength as those in the NBA community and force accountability for these egregious actions. Like Robert Sarver, Dan Snyder must go.”

Banks and Katz represent former Washington employees who say they witnessed or experienced sexual harassment while working for the Commanders. Their clients participated in investigations into Snyder, including from the NFL and Congress. 

The NFL fined the Commanders — then known as the Washington Football Team — $10 million in July 2021 for having a “toxic” workplace culture and announced Snyder was stepping away from day-to-day operations of the club for “several months” following a 10-month investigation. The league did not release a written report into the matter, leading the House Oversight and Reform to launch its inquiry later that fall.

Since then, former Washington marketing manager Tiffani Johnston told members of Congress in February that Snyder made an unwanted advance toward her by touching her leg and later trying to coax her into his limo during a work dinner. 

A month later, former sales executive Jason Friedman testified to Congress that Washington committed financial improprieties by intentionally withholding refunds to season-ticket holders and part of ticket revenue from the NFL, among other allegations. 

Snyder strongly denied the claims, but the NFL launched a new probe into the billionaire owner and his team. 

Neither the league’s nor Congress’ investigations have concluded. Snyder testified for nearly 11 hours to Congress in July. 

The Washington Times reached out to a Snyder representative for comment. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide