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Raiders face allegations of workplace misconduct

6/26/2022 4:51:20 PM
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Most of us have become familiar with the workplace misconduct in the Washington Commanders organization but the Las Vegas Raiders are also under scrutiny for these type of issues.

As reported by Briana Erickson and Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, women who used to work for the team also alleged a troubling pattern of harassment, forced demotions and unequal treatment, with one calling it a “boys club and the mob wrapped in one.”

“When you’re in that environment, it’s kind of like survival of the fittest,” said Nicolle Reeder, who filed a class-action lawsuit against the team in 2020 for violating California labor law.

The high-profile exits of at least 10 Raiders leaders in the past year, including longtime president Marc Badain and head coach Jon Gruden, underscore the organization’s ongoing internal turmoil.

Even ex-interim President Dan Ventrelle, who was fired in early May, claimed he was terminated for trying to act as a whistleblower. Ventrelle told the Review-Journal on May 6 that he was retaliated against after alerting the NFL about concerns of a hostile work environment.

But Nicole Adams, a former Raiders human resources employee, said Ventrelle was well aware of how employees were treated.

“Dan was involved in every situation that happened, every situation of harassment, every situation of a hostile working condition,” she said.

Ventrelle declined to comment for this story.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, who also owns the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, provided a single comment on Tuesday: “Eventually, I will have something to say about all of this, but not right now.”

The week after Ventrelle’s firing, the Raiders unexpectedly gave employees significant raises and bonuses, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.

Several workers have described actions by front office leaders that would contradict anti-harassment and retaliation policies laid out in the team’s employee handbook, which was obtained by the Review-Journal.

The team’s human resources leadership turned over three times in the past two years. Ex-employees also have raised concerns about how seriously complaints were handled and whether effective actions were taken.

Adams, who worked in HR for nearly five years, said she was directed to create job descriptions that allowed the company to skirt paying overtime for workers.

Some women claimed they were told how to dress and were singled out for distracting the men in the office. Adams, who lives in Las Vegas, said she repeatedly was made uncomfortable over what she wore to work, even if it was a turtleneck dress down to her knees.

“Those things were inappropriate because I had boobs and a butt,” she said. “I just started wearing pants because I felt like I couldn’t wear skirts or dresses, or I would be seen as being provocative.”

Adams also described being kissed by a former Oakland Raiders employee who worked for football operations. He was allowed to continue working there despite executives knowing about his inappropriate behavior, she said.

Ventrelle, then general counsel, “jokingly said that he would be ready to pay off anybody who came with a formal complaint against that person,” according to Adams.

Adams was fired in November 2020, after she reported feeling targeted by her supervisors in human resources. She did not accept a severance payment that would have required her to stay quiet.

She said she was so affected by her experience that she filed a complaint against the Raiders with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission.

Adams, who is Black, accuses the team in her complaint of discriminating against her because of her race and retaliating against her after she reported concerns about pay disparity and unequal treatment.

“Every time someone was let go, every time someone was retaliated against or pushed out, every time they had to leave feeling less than themselves, it hurt me,” Adams said. “In the role of an HR professional, you’re supposed to protect people from things like that, but I had no power to do so.”

Culture issues at the Raiders are not a surprise, said a former employee with knowledge of how Davis runs his organizations.

“To Mark’s credit, he does a good job of taking care of the players and providing them resources,” said the source, who was granted anonymity by the Review-Journal to prevent potential retribution. “But part of that makes you feel like it’s a facade. If you’re a truly good leader and organization builder, then you treat everybody well. Not just a certain faction.”

Ventrelle, who spent 18 years with the Raiders, told the Review-Journal when he left that he was fired after reporting to the NFL that multiple employees had written complaints alleging misconduct.

“(Davis) did not demonstrate the warranted level of concern,” Ventrelle said.

But Ventrelle’s comments didn’t make sense to Adams, who said she came to him on more than one occasion and was eventually pushed out in late 2020, two weeks after bringing more concerns to his attention.

“He always said that he was going to help us, but instead we were all replaced,” she said.

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