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Former Employee of NFL Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

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NFL Films, owned by the National Football League, was slammed with a sexual harassment lawsuit, filed by a former employee, earlier this week. Nadia Axakowsky, the self-proclaimed first female football narrator for the NFL, as well as an actress in company commercials, film and TV productions, filed the civil complaint in Camden, New Jersey, alleging sexual harassment by several supervisors during the course of her 20-year tenure.

What is Axakowsky claiming?

The plaintiff, Axakowsky, began working for NFL Films in 1997 as a voice-over actress and claims the harassment began shortly thereafter. The suit alleges Axakowsky was subjected to ongoing, regular, unwelcomed sexual advances and comments. The plaintiff said one supervising producer in particular, Sam Pena, asked her on dates despite her refusal, and told her she would lose her job if she did not accept. Pena was the producer/director of the specific program Axakowsky worked on during that time, “NFL Blast.” Pena left the company in 1998.

From 2003 to 2016, Axakowsky said another supervisor, Glenn Adamo, continually harassed her in a sexual manner, specifically, groping her. During this time, the plaintiff was working on the “Billboard Girl” program.

In the lawsuit, Axakowsky said Adamo made comments such as wanting to “smother her with millions of kisses.” The suit also stated his demands that Axakowsky personally thank him for her salary and career advancements. Axakowsky said she would be called into Adamo’s office where she was subjected to his unwanted advances and groping.

“Defendants allowed the sexually harassing and discriminatory practices to continue in the work environment,” Axakowsky states. “Moreover, upon information and belief, it was common knowledge by defendant NFL and defendants’ employees that Mr. Adamo was a serial harasser of women, and would often corner women in his office behind closed doors.”

What’s the NFL have to say about it?

The NFL responded to the allegations on Wednesday. Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the NFL, said the suit “has no merit.” “We will vigorously defend these claims in court,” said McCarthy. However, Axakowsky disagrees, saying the company was aware of the harassment. She states she made complaints to another manager, Kevin McLoughlin, about the alleged harassment but the incidents were never properly investigated by the company nor was appropriate corrective action ever taken.

In June 2016, Adamo left the company. Shortly thereafter, Axakowsky was fired by NFL Films. She said she was let go weeks after reminding managers of the sexual harassment she’d endured over the years. McLoughlin has since left NFL Films too.

What is Axakowsky seeking?

Axakowsky is represented by Caroline H. Miller of Derek Smith Law Group PLLC. In the lawsuit, Axakowsky seeks damages to redress the injuries she suffered “as a result of being discriminated against, sexually harassed, retaliated against by her employer solely due to her sex and for complaining of the ongoing harassment.” She is asking for back pay and front pay along with punitive, liquidated and statutory damages and attorneys’ fees and costs.

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