Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder denied allegations made against him during a congressional roundtable in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, including a new allegation of workplace misconduct by a former team employee.
During the roundtable discussion, Tiffani Johnston, who worked for the team for eight years starting in 2002 as a cheerleader and marketing manager, said Snyder placed his hand on her thigh without her consent at a team dinner, and that he pushed her toward his limousine with his hand on her lower back. She had not previously disclosed those allegations to the media or investigators.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, read from a letter by another former team employee, Jason Friedman, corroborating Johnston's account.
In response to the allegations made during the roundtable, Snyder issued a statement apologizing for "misconduct" that previously took place within his organization but said any allegations "leveled against me personally" were "outright lies."
"I have acknowledged and apologized multiple times in the past for the misconduct which took place at the Team and the harm suffered by some of our valued employees," Snyder said. "I apologize again today for this conduct, and fully support the people who have been victimized and have come forward to tell their stories. In response to learning about incidents like these in 2020, the Team, on its own, undertook to revamp its policies, procedures and personnel. Real change has been made and employees of the Team have confirmed the vast improvement in Team culture over the past 18 months.
"While past conduct at the Team was unacceptable, the allegations leveled against me personally in today's roundtable -- many of which are well over 13 years old -- are outright lies. I unequivocally deny having participated in any such conduct, at any time and with respect to any person. Tanya and I will not be distracted by those with a contrary agenda from continuing with the positive personnel and cultural changes that have been made at the Team over the past 18 months, and those that we continue to make both on and off the field."
The NFL said it will review and consider Johnston's allegations "as we would any other new allegations regarding workplace misconduct" and would "determine any further action as appropriate."
"We are grateful to the witnesses who again demonstrated courage by sharing their painful experiences," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement Thursday. "The NFL is reviewing and will consider Ms. Johnston's allegations as we would any other new allegations regarding workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders. We will determine any further action as appropriate. Today's testimony underscores that all employees deserve a workplace that is free from harassment of any kind and where they feel safe reporting misconduct."
Among the allegations repeated at Thursday's roundtable: that women working for the team were repeatedly subjected to unwanted touching and crude comments; that cheerleaders were ogled by team executives and clients and fired by Snyder because of their looks; and that the team's video production department, at Snyder's behest, secretly edited an explicit video of cheerleaders using surreptitious footage from a calendar shoot.
In July 2020, Snyder commissioned an investigation into the team's workplace environment that was taken over by the NFL at the end of August of that year. After the investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson's firm, the league fined Washington $10 million in July 2021, and Snyder temporarily ceded day-to-day operations of the team to his wife, Tanya.
Former Commanders employees and members of Congress pressured the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday to release the report about the team's alleged history of sexual harassment and a hostile workplace culture. They say the team and Snyder have not been held accountable.
Asked about the scrutiny from Congress by philanthropist David Rubenstein during an appearance at the Economic Club of Washington, Commanders President Jason Wright said the team's workplace problems occurred before his arrival. Wright is the only Black team president in the NFL and highlighted the diversity of the staff he has built.
"The period of this rebrand and the time we've been here has coincided with a period of very fast, very deep and irreversible change within the organization," Wright said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.