New allegations against Washington owner Daniel Snyder emerge in congressional roundtable

New sexual harassment claims against Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder emerged Thursday morning during a congressional roundtable of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, in which six former franchise employees made allegations about a toxic workplace environment. 

The common thread from the former employees: asking Congress to pressure the NFL to release details from its 2020 investigation of the franchise, which examined allegations of sexual misconduct and systemic breakdowns in the work culture. The NFL has said the findings from its investigation were delivered orally in an effort to protect the accusers who came forward. The NFL fined the team $10 million in July of 2021.

Through a team spokesperson, Snyder on Thursday denied the new allegations, calling them "outright lies."

In her opening statement Thursday, former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston recounted an alleged incident at a team-organized activity that was presented as a "networking event." Johnston claimed she was told "to dress cute" and said she realized later that it was "an orchestration by (her boss) and Dan Snyder to put me in a compromising sexual situation."

Johnston claimed she was seated next to Snyder at a dinner after the networking event, and that it "was not for me to discuss business, but to allow him, Dan Snyder, to place his hand on my thigh under the table."  

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder

Johnston told the committee she "learned how to discreetly remove a man's unwanted hand from my thigh at a crowded dinner table at a busy restaurant to avoid a scene" and "that job survival meant I should continue my conversation with another co-worker rather than call out Dan Snyder, right then, in the moment."

Johnston alleged that later in the evening, Snyder "aggressively pushed" her toward his limo with his hand on her lower back, encouraging Johnston to ride back with him toward her car. 

"I learned how to continue to say 'no,' even though the situation continued to get more awkward, uncomfortable and physical," she told the committee.

Johnston did not specify when or where the dinner took place.

In a separate allegation, Melanie Coburn, a former cheerleader and director of marketing, said a group of employees was invited to Snyder's home in Aspen, Colorado, as part of a rewards trip. Coburn said there was heavy drinking at a dinner that preceded the employees returning to Snyder's house.

Coburn said she was told to stay in the basement and that she "later learned from a colleague who was there that it was because the men had invited prostitutes back." Coburn also alleged that at the dinner, another colleague was "hazed to drink, despite being a recovering addict." She characterized the culture as "deplorable, like a frat party run by a billionaire who knew no boundaries."

Snyder denied Thursday's allegations in his statement.

"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 in the statement that was emailed to USA TODAY Sports. 

"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."