NFL denies allegations in harassment lawsuit
- Ilona Hunt
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The NFL has responded to a civil lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by employees of the NFL Network, saying that the woman who made the allegations "approved, consented to, authorized, and/or ratified" the behavior through her conduct.
NFL Enterprises, in a Jan. 18 filing, denied all of the allegations of sexual harassment, said the woman took too long to file the suit and did not pursue proper remedies before filing the suit.
Jami Cantor, who worked as a wardrobe stylist at NFL Network, filed the suit in October with an amendment on December 11. She describes several sexually inappropriate encounters with six retired players and two executives who have worked for the network.
Cantor worked at NFL Network for a decade until she was fired in October 2016. In the suit, she alleges age and sex discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and defamation. The NFL identified the players as Marshall Faulk, Ike Taylor, Heath Evans, Donovan McNabb, Eric Davis and Warren Sapp. Faulk, Taylor and Evans have been suspended from NFL Network pending an investigation. Sapp no longer works for the network.
McNabb and Davis had left NFL Network and were working for ESPN Radio when the suit was filed. They were taken off the air Dec. 12, pending an internal investigation, and dismissed by ESPN on January 6.
NFL Network executive Eric Weinberger and former NFL Network employee Marc Watts also are named in Cantor's lawsuit.
Cantor said in the suit that Faulk fondled and groped her and asked "deeply personal and invasive questions" about her sex life. Cantor said she received inappropriate and sexually explicit texts from Weinberger, McNabb, Taylor and Evans.
"It was a severe, pervasive, sexually charged work environment," Cantor's attorney, Laura Horton, said in December. "There was a lot of stuff going on. The texts and the video and the photographs, I've got them. It's not like a he-said, she-said sort of thing. I've got documentary evidence."
In its defense motion, the NFL said that the alleged conduct was not severe enough or pervasive enough to constitute a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.