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Feb 26, 2014

NFL team tackles workplace bullying

Commitment comes after investigative reports of harassment, bullying
    
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(Reuters) — Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin has pledged to create a "better workplace" inside the team locker room in his first public comments since an independent report by the NFL last week detailed a pattern of bullying.

A 144-page report by independent investigator Ted Wells released six days ago found that Richie Incognito and two team mates had engaged in repeated harassment against the Dolphins' Jonathan Martin and two others.

The report also named Miami players John Jerry and Mike Pouncey as offenders and said another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer were also targets.

"We're going to do things about it, we're going to make it better," Philbin told reporters on Thursday, the first full day of the league's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.

"We're going to look at every avenue, we're going to uncover every stone and we're going to have a better workplace. I promise you that. I'm going to make sure that happens… When I read the report ... some of the facts, the behavior and the language that was outlined in the report is inappropriate and it's unacceptable."

Offensive tackle Martin voluntarily left the club in October and said afterwards that he had been subjected to harassment, which Wells said included racial slurs and sexual taunts about his mother and sister.

Fellow lineman Incognito was subsequently suspended by the team stemming from Martin's complaint.

‘Clubhouse culture’

The episode stirred debate across the United States about the "clubhouse culture" in the National Football League and put a spotlight on what is acceptable behavior in the workplace.

Wells recommended in his conclusion that the NFL adapt more clear-cut workplace rules, and found that inappropriate behavior in the Miami clubhouse went beyond the mistreatment of Martin.

An unnamed, Japanese-born assistant trainer was repeatedly the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language, the report said.

"I don't have the benefit to look back," Philbin said. "I would have hoped that I would have noticed some of these things. I can tell you I never turned my back.

"If I had heard this type of language or these types of acts being done, I would have intervened immediately ... I could have intervened quicker and perhaps it would not have grown to this proportion that it's grown to."

Philbin, entering his third season in charge of the Dolphins, said he had complete faith in the Miami locker room and all the players.

"I'm confident that we're going to make the changes necessary to improve the workplace of the Miami Dolphins and improve our football team," he said.

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