WTOP: Two lawyers who represent dozens of former Washington Commanders employees are putting the National Football League on notice that they are prepared to sue the league.
The threat of a lawsuit comes after a report that Commanders attorneys might have used an investigation into the team to create a “tip sheet” that was used to put together an “enemies list.”
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said that revealing the names of their clients to the team, if true, would have violated a promise made to their clients to protect their identities.
“After participating in the investigation, and after the NFL revealed witness names, several of our clients were harassed by private investigators, some were publicly disparaged and/or removed from team alumni groups, and at least one who was still working for the team was terminated,” a letter stated.
Claims that the details of the report were shared with the team and used for a “tip sheet” came from an ESPN article that cited several sources within the Commanders organization.
“If true, the ‘tip sheet’ allegation is not only morally reprehensible, but it also provides the basis for us to take legal action against the NFL, which we will do given the serious harm caused to our clients by their reliance on the NFL’s promises,” Banks and Katz wrote.
The attorneys who say they represent more than 40 former Commanders employees also claim the NFL’s decision to not release the report by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm demonstrates “hypocrisy,” because the reason the NFL gave for not releasing the findings was to protect witness confidentiality. Wilkinson’s report found the team’s workplace to be toxic and unprofessional, especially for female employees.
Banks and Katz call on the report to be released with witness names redacted, or with an explanation for not doing so. The two also call for a meeting with Goodell, during which they want to find out if the facts from the report were used by the team for the “tip sheet.”
“If you ignore our request, as you have with our past requests to talk to you directly, we will assume that the reporting by Mr. (Don) Van Natta (an ESPN reporter) is true, and we will move forward with formal legal action on behalf of our clients,” the letter said.
“Neither the team nor Mr. Snyder was ever advised by the NFL, Ms. Wilkinson or anyone else about the progress of the investigation, or who had been interviewed in connection with it — either during the investigation or afterwards,” a Commanders spokesperson told WTOP in a statement.
“ESPN was advised of this fact before they ran their story last week, but proceeded to go forward with the story, based on their discussions with ‘unnamed sources.’ The story was false last week, and it is false today.”
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