The NFL took a break from enforcing their kneeling ban to address workplace misconduct when ex-owner of the Carolina Panthers Jerry Richardson was heavily fined by the National Football League for harassment on Thursday (June 28).
Richardson was fined $2.75 million, the highest amount ever imposed by the NFL for sexual and racial harassment, after a months-long probe by former U.S. Attorney-turned-independent investigator Mary Jo White.
Richardson’s misconduct came to light in a Sports Illustrated article last year, which unveiled that Richardson paid financial settlements to at least four former female employees. When the article broke, Richardson announced that he would sell the Panthers, a team that both Stephen Curry and Sean “Diddy” Combs expressed interest in buying.
David Tepper purchased the team in a sale that is expected to close in two weeks, according to the NFL.
Though Richardson has been fined and is out of the Panthers, improper workplace conduct still remains a huge issue. The NFL fine comes as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to give women the confidence to come forward about misconduct in all forms of entertainment.
NFL announcement that former Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson is being fined $2.5 million after its investigation into Caroline’s workplace environment. pic.twitter.com/dTQonZizen
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 28, 2018
Several incidents of misconduct created an uncomfortable environment for women, including Richardson sending suggestive notes about “pampering” female staffers by “rubbing their feet.” He also used a racial slur in referring to a Black scout. Members of the Panthers organization were unaware of Richardson’s misconduct and the settlements, according to the league.
Former assistant coach Curtis Fuller resigned in May after his inappropriate texts and emails with female staff members were exposed. The details of the messages were not disclosed, but the “volume of communications,” not the content, was said to be the central issue, according to the outlet.
In a release announcing Richardson’s fine, the NFL announced that they have changed their anti-harassment and discrimination policy and ramped up workplace training for employees. The league also said that the money Richardson will hand over will go to organizations that address race and gender-based issues.