The Carolina Panthers have detailed the steps they are taking to "provide a healthy work environment" after a former employee came forward and detailed owner Jerry Richardson's alleged misconduct toward her.
The woman, who remained anonymous, wrote a detailed statement to Sports Illustrated calling out various members of the Panthers and other NFL owners for enabling Richardson's behaviour.
"Do you realize how much you hurt me?" the woman asked Richardson in the first-person story published under the headline "My Truth In Letters: A victim of Jerry Richardson's workplace misconduct addresses those she holds responsible."
She continues: "I don't trust anyone because of you. I couldn't have a real relationship because of you. I have low self-esteem because of you. I am insecure because of you. I suffered from anxiety and depression because of you. I feel shame because of you. I am a damaged person because of you."
The Panthers responded to the expose in a statement on Thursday.
It read: "Since December 2017, when we commenced an internal investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, the organization has taken the appropriate steps to remediate any misconduct and ensure a safe and comfortable work environment.
"These claims are very serious and we have cooperated with the NFL's investigation and remain fully committed to improving every facet of our organization. Because this matter continues to be under an ongoing legal review, we will not comment publicly on the specifics of the allegations, but we do feel compelled to establish what we are doing to provide a healthy work environment.
"Tim Becker was named COO in December, and immediately began working towards addressing the issues. The team allocated significant resources towards reforming our workplace, restructured executive responsibilities and added a comprehensive training program on harassment and diversity and inclusion issues.
"We have overhauled our related policies and procedures, including improvements in our reporting to the League, all to make certain that employees who have a concern have multiple ways to report those concerns and can feel comfortable doing so. We have instituted several new employee programs, all aimed at creating an environment in which our staff can feel proud to work."
A statement from the Carolina Panthers pic.twitter.com/OAJOF9CajH— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 26, 2018
In December, Richardson was accused of workplace harassment and using a racial slur toward an NFL scout in a story published by Sports Illustrated. Within days, Richardson announced that he would be selling the franchise, although he remains the owner as that process plays out.
Other NFL owners have supported Richardson, including Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, both of whom the writer of the SI story calls out.
The alleged victim also voices her displeasure with the NFL, saying she originally felt relieved that they were taking over the investigation, but the non-disclosure agreements Richardson had in place have basically stalled any proceedings for legal reasons.
"Let me get this straight. You say you are doing a thorough investigation of 'workplace misconduct' of Jerry Richardson. Through my attorney, I let you know that I am indeed a victim of such 'misconduct' and have information for you — but you cannot protect me," she wrote in the story to the NFL. "Got it. You have zero power, and that makes your investigation a farce."
Neither Richardson nor the NFL has responded to the story.
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