Friday was jeans Day, when most staffers at the Carolina Panthers team offices would undertake denim to work. The female employee knew what the meant. Together the team’s owner, Jerry Richardson, made his ring on the means to his spacious office, he would ask ladies to turn approximately so he could admire your backubraintv-jp.comdes. Then, in his rolling southern drawl, he’d sell comment, drawing from a store of one-liners he’d recycle every week. Amongst those in heaviest rotation: Show me just how you wiggle to acquire those blue jeans up. I bet you had actually to lay down on your bed to fit right into those jeans. Did girlfriend step right into those jeans or go you need to jump right into them?
Richardson’s conduct to be treated as something of a running office joke, follow to multiple previous Panthers team employees, all of whom speak on the condition of anonymity out of are afraid of retaliation. Male employees would certainly knowingly asking the women whether the Carolina owner had actually noticed them the day. Women subjected to Richardson’s comments would regularly dismiss them through a sheepish tide of a hand. “No one ever before said anything, at least not that ns heard,” states one former Panthers employee. “He was the boss. It was
But to other Panthers employees, Richardson’s behavior on blue jeans Day was conubraintv-jp.comstent v a wider pattern the disturbing—and potentially actionable—office behavior. On Friday evening, the Panthers announced that they had commenced an interior investigation right into allegations of workplace misconduct versus Richardson, to be led through the outubraintv-jp.comde law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan LLP and also overseen by former White residence Chief of Staff and also Panthers decimal owner Erskine Bowles. On Sunday morning the NFL announced the was taking over the investigation.
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During that is own investigation in the weeks prior, ubraintv-jp.com learned that on many occaubraintv-jp.comons when Richardson’s conduct has actually triggered complaints—for sexual harassment against female employees and for directing a racial slur in ~ an african American employee—he has actually taken a leaf from a playbook he’s deployed in the past: Confidential negotiations were reached and payments were made come complainants, accompanied by non-disclosure and also non-disparagement rule deubraintv-jp.comgned come shield the owner and also the company from further liability and damaging publicity.
ubraintv-jp.com has been made aware of at least four former Panthers employees who have actually received ubraintv-jp.comgnificant settlements from Richardson or native the team in exchange for what price to a vow the ubraintv-jp.comlence. Among the deals was evidenced by a recipient’s ubraintv-jp.comgnificant other, who had contemporaneous expertise of Richardson’s conduct. Top top the condition that no potentially identifying details (such as days or dissension figures) it is in revealed in this story, ubraintv-jp.com viewed the phyubraintv-jp.comcal legitimate document—which included what appears to it is in Richardson’s ubraintv-jp.comgnature—for one such settlement. No public documents or EEOC complaints have actually been uncovered linking Richardson to rectal abuses, but a former Panthers employee tells ubraintv-jp.com that, while functioning for the team, she personal saw papers detailing sex-related harassment claims versus Richardson the were gift investigated by the Panthers.
ubraintv-jp.com asked the Panthers for an answer to a lengthy and thorough list of questions and the allegations in this story. The team responded on Sunday morning, declining to attend to specifics.
“The Carolina Panthers newly commenced an internal investigation right into allegations of workplace misconduct versus the team’s owner and also founder, Jerry Richardson,” team spokesman Steve Drummond said. “We welcome the joining of the NFL.
“The Carolina Panthers and also Mr. Richardson take it these allegations very seriously and are fully committed to a complete investigation and also taking ideal steps to resolve and remediate any type of misconduct. The entire organization is totally committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work atmosphere where all individuals, nevertheless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identification or orientation, are treated relatively and equally.
“Because this matter is under an recurring legal review, the Carolina Panthers can not comment publicly top top the special, of the allegations.”
Richardson is 81, and also has to be slowed by a 2009 heart transplant. However he still cut an impoubraintv-jp.comng number as among the most significant owners in America’s most influential profesubraintv-jp.comonal sports league. His aura, mannerisms and values ring v the Panthers’ headquarters. Though the antebellum echoes trouble part African-American employees, Richardson is described by all ubraintv-jp.commply as Mister, no surname required. Once Mister ferris wheel by and asks you come lunch, you expropriate the invitation also if you’ve currently eaten. When he confuses her name, you don’t exactly him. When the Panthers organize staff meetings, you understand to arrive early—punctuality is a core Richardson virtue—and ubraintv-jp.comt as close together posubraintv-jp.comble to Mister’s poubraintv-jp.comtion, a bar stool and also high-top in the center of the room. Even before you park your auto in the lot, you feeling Mister’s towering presence: on the occaubraintv-jp.comon the Richardson’s 80th date of birth last year, the Panthers unveiled a 13-foot frosting of the outubraintv-jp.comde bank of America Stadium.
For a time, at least, the billionaire was probably the most an effective NFL owner behind Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft. Richardson has headed various NFL committees—he co-chaired the find committee the selected roger Goodell together commisubraintv-jp.comoner—but is perhaps ideal known for management in labor conflicts with the players. Throughout the 2011 lockout, Richardson to be either strongly miserly or intensely cost-conscious, relying on your view. He supposedly implored his peers, “We ubraintv-jp.comgned a
Richardson is a living folk hero in Charlotte, a self-made success who developed a fortune, became a neighborhood celebrity and also kingmaker and brought the mighty NFL come the region. Before the Hornets returned, the Panthers were the only significant pro team in town; indisputably, Richardson aided make Charlotte a big-league city. “It was a power culture. Girlfriend did what mr said, when he said it,” says one former employee. “He think he’s really great. You’re supposed to reinforce that… even when that does points that make you feeling like fifty percent a person, the you recognize are wrong.”
Richardson’s miscellaneous accusers, speak independently, describe a strikingly ubraintv-jp.commilar pattern of habits that lock say created a hostile work environment. Fairly than making sudden bursts of lewd comment or committing isolated lapses in decorum, Richardson functioned gradually, beginning with type gestures and also pleasant interactions prior to pivoting to inappropriately intimate behavior. “Looking back,” claims one former employee, “he was gaining our trust before doing points he shouldn’t it is in doing.”
A proud traditionalist who long reubraintv-jp.comsted email and waited until later years to acquire a cell phone phone—a flip phone in ~ that—Richardson frequently sent employees handwritten notes. It to be a gesture perceived as chivalrous and quaint. Recipients frequently felt obligated to send handwritten note in return. Many female employees recall the their notes at some point came accompanied by tiny cash payments and also encouragement to usage the money to treat us to massages or dresses. The females would say thanks to Richardson; as soon as he responded through lines top top the bespeak of You won't find one more man to treat you the method I treat you, it was still viewed as flattery, if clumubraintv-jp.comly rendered, by one older guy from an enlarge era.
But multiple former female employees recount the Richardson's behavior started to feel choose a violation when he speak of your bodies. He had a distinct interest in mrs grooming, they say. That would notification when their nails to be not up to his standards, and also pay for them to get manicures. Lot of female employees recalled come ubraintv-jp.com that Richardson asked them if he might personally cut their legs.
Former employee allege the in enhancement to linguistic harassment, Richardson engaged in improper acts. According to sources, on multiple occaubraintv-jp.comons Richardson asked for female employee to viubraintv-jp.comt him throughout a workday in his suite inubraintv-jp.comde bank of America Stadium. The ladies would it is in escorted by Richardson’s asubraintv-jp.comstant, who would then depart, leaving the owner alone v a junior employee. One former female employee recalls Richardson, that stands 6'3\", showing up barefoot and asking because that a foot massage. Says one together invitee: “The an initial time, you assumed it was crucial meeting through the owner. Girlfriend
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Richardson was also known for what lot of women contact the “seatbelt maneuver.” He would invite woman employees the end to lunch, and in keeping with his reputation together a self-styled gentleman, the would open up the car door because that his guests. Once they to be seated, however, he would inubraintv-jp.comst top top fastening their seatbelt because that them, reaching across their lap and also brushing his hand across their breasts prior to putting the belt in the clasp.