The Minnesota Vikings play the Redskins at FedEx Field on November 28. The Washington Redskins never beat Brett Favre when he was with the Green Bay Packers. Should they be worried now that he is with the Vikings?
They may not need to. The NFL may sack Favre before he gets here.
In what may be another case of jocks behaving badly, sports-comedy web site Deadspin.com broke the story that good ol’ boy Brett may have sexted hottie Jenn Sterger when both were employed by the New York Jets, Favre as the team’s savior-quarterback and Sterger as the team’s “GAMEDAY Host.”
Favre supposedly texted suggestive invitations to Sterger that might have included revealing images of Favre’s masculinity. Deadspin makes clear that Sterger was not the source of the stories, or of the voice recordings and images in their possession.
Typical twenty-something male readers of sports blogs will laugh at all this. We at Redskins Hog Heaven sometimes focus on the business of sports. From that angle, this story is more serious than you might guess.
We turned to Roslyn Brown, president of EEO Workplace Strategies for background information. Ms. Brown found the alleged circumstances offensive. Beyond the bad press for Favre, Brown pointed out that the employee-to-employee nature of the activity exposed the Jets and the NFL to liability for sexual harassment in the workplace under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“Employers are not expected to monitor every employee behavior,” says Brown, “but they are expected to act once they become aware” of a hostile workplace. The unwelcome receipt of sexually suggestive messages would be considered hostile, if the target of such messages feels threatened.”
Ms. Sterger did not divulge the messages to Deadspin and may not have felt intimidated. She referred to the story in a statement issued by her manager as an “alleged incident that happened two years ago.” (Interesting choice of words.)
The law expects employers to act when something likes this comes to their attention, even if someone other than the alleged victim raises the matter. Employers can be held liable if the behavior occurs in the presence of a company official and the company takes no action.
This story hints that someone in the Jets public relations department may have interceded with Ms. Sterger on Favre’s behalf. Oops.
For Ms. Sterger to make a federal case of it, she had to file a complaint within 180 days of the incident says Brown. The timeline for State laws may vary. Sterger did not complain. The story may die.
Or the story may take the Jets, the NFL and even Ms. Sterger to a place they do not want to go. Favre was an employee of the New York Jets but he signed a NFL contract. The league is aware that something may have happened in New York that involves an employee now in Minnesota. There is the inconvenience of a third party who may have been on the Jets management team.
If there is anything to the story, the league will cite the personal conduct language in the Favre’s contract to sanction him. But it’s the employee-to-employee nature of the scandal exposes the Jets and the league to added legal risk. New York, burned this summer by a story of player indiscretion, does not need this and the bad jokes sure to follow. (Favre puts the jest in Jets.)
The NFL hopes to conclude its investigation in “five or six days,” then figure out if any action is warranted against Favre and other involved employees. If a suspension is warranted, I’m ok if it happens on November 28.
A young friend reminded me of good career advice that her mother gave her. Don’t get your honey where your get your money.
Point after: Forbes – NFL developing workplace conduct program for teams