House reps tell NFL to lift gag orders on witnesses, hand over docs in WFT investigation

The NFL is out of timeouts and now Congress has its eyes on the ball.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) called on the NFL and the Washington Football Team to commit to complete transparency on the handling of the teams’ hostile workplace culture on Friday, a day after the deadline Congress set.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had told Congress on Oct. 26 that it would “be cooperative” and witnesses “are welcome to be public if they wish to,” but Maloney and Krishnamoorthi said in a statement that they want more.

Namely, they want the NFL to hand over documents and release all individuals from any non-disclosure agreement that prevents them from speaking out about Dan Snyder and the Washington Football Team’s toxic work environment.

“Commissioner Goodell said the NFL will cooperate with Congress, and we expect him to make good on that promise by producing the documents requested,” Maloney said. “In the spirit of transparency, I am calling on the NFL and Washington Football Team to honor the Commissioner’s public statement that witnesses to the team’s hostile workplace culture are ‘welcome’ to come forward. Congress has a responsibility to combat harassment and discrimination in the workplace. If the NFL shares our commitment to address these issues, it will be fully transparent about the findings of the internal review and will allow all individuals to speak freely without fear of retaliation.”

Krishnamoorthi specifically cited Snyder’s “gag orders.”

“While Commissioner Roger Goodell has told the press that victims and witnesses are free to take their story public, he should know many of them do not have that option,” Krishnamoorthi said. “Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Football Team, has saddled them with gag orders, preventing them from coming forward due to fear of retaliation. If the NFL and the WFT are serious about addressing, among other things, sexual harassment within their organizations, they must allow these individuals to speak freely. The NFL has committed to producing documents. We look forward to seeing them.”

Attorneys representing 40 former Washington Football Team employees, who say they were sexually harassed during their time employed by the team, insisted on Oct. 29 that the findings of an investigation into the team be made public.

Attorney Lisa Banks said in a Tweet that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s comments at a news conference following an owners’ meeting Tuesday were “disingenuous” after stating that the league will not issue a report on its 10-month investigation into Washington’s workplace culture due to privacy concerns.

The letter came after 12 other former team employees co-signed a letter that was hand-delivered at the NFL’s owners’ meeting.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter to Goodell on Oct. 21 giving him the deadline.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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