The NFL has taken on the independent investigation into workplace behavior within the Washington Football team, a person familiar with the situation, said Monday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as the decision had not been made public. The person said Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed this move with owner Dan Snyder, who supported him.
Last month, after the Washington Post reported 15 former employees saying they were sexually molested while on the team, Snyder hired Washington law firm Wilkinson Walsh LLP to review the team's culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct . Attorney Beth Wilkinson now reports directly to the league office.
The change of course comes in less than a week since the Post reported more examples of sexual harassment in the workplace as well as allegations that Snyder was personally involved. Wilkinson and a Snyder spokesman did not immediately respond to comments.
Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 15 former team employees, met with Lisa Friel, Senior Vice Present and Special Advisor to the NFL on Monday. The law firm Katz, Marshall and Banks LLP sent a letter to Goodell on Thursday asking the league to open its own investigation.
"Our clients would like to participate in such an NFL investigation, but do not feel safe talking to investigators hired by Mr. Snyder and do not trust the investigation that is currently ongoing," Banks and Katz wrote in the letter.
Banks and Katz called their meeting a "productive discussion" and said they learned that the NFL and the team had agreed to release current and former employees from nondisclosure agreements so they can speak to investigators.
"We are delighted and encouraged that the league is taking this matter seriously and we expect that once the investigation is complete, it will take appropriate action against Daniel Snyder and the Washington Football team," they said.
Snyder pledged to change the culture within the organization as 42 women shared their experiences working in Washington. In July, he said that once the investigation is complete, the team will "implement new policies and procedures and strengthen our human resources infrastructure to not only avoid these issues in the future, but most importantly create a team culture that is respectful and fully inclusive."
After the Post reported from a former cheerleader that Snyder invited her to a hotel room with a friend of his and that longtime team leader Larry Michael made additional cheerleading videos for the owner showing sensitive material that was not made public, Washington's owners denied these specific allegations.
"I want to make it clear that this never happened," said Snyder of the 2004 report in which he invited a cheerleader into a hotel room. "Also, I have no knowledge of the 10 year old videos referenced in the story. I did not ask for their creation, and I have never seen them."
In a separate statement, the team said it was "deeply concerned about these terrible allegations and (is) obliged to investigate them fully".
Goodell said the league strongly condemns the report's allegations of "unprofessional, disruptive and obnoxious behavior and work environment that is totally contrary to our standards and has no place in the NFL".