The allegations against the owner are serious.
News of Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson being under investigation for alleged workplace misconduct broke on Friday.
Now, a new Sports Illustrated report has some of the details of what Richardson is accused of, and it isn’t pretty.
Richardson is accuse of sexual harassment and using a racial slur toward a team scout, as well as making multiple “significant” confidential payouts as settlements. Richardson is accused of, among other things, asking female employees if he could shave their legs.
During its own investigation in the weeks prior, SI learned that on multiple occasions when Richardson’s conduct has triggered complaints—for sexual harassment against female employees and for directing a racial slur at an African American employee—he has taken a leaf from a playbook he’s deployed in the past: Confidential settlements were reached and payments were made to complainants, accompanied by non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses designed to shield the owner and the organization from further liability and damaging publicity.
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But multiple former female employees recount that Richardson’s behavior began to feel like a violation when he spoke of their bodies. He had a special interest in female grooming, they say. He would notice when their nails were not up to his standards, and pay for them to get manicures. Multiple female employees recalled to SI that Richardson asked them if he could personally shave their legs.
The NFL confirmed to ESPN it has taken over the investigation.
We will keep you updated on the development of the investigation.