Over a dozen former and current Arizona Cardinals employees accused team owner Michael Bidwill of creating a toxic workplace built on “fear,” according to The Athletic’s Kalyn Kahler.
Employees said Bidwill fostered an “outdated, archaic, (and) constricted” environment that dictated how women should dress and interact with male football staff and players. Women were also prohibited from certain areas of the team facility.
Bidwill, who inherited the franchise after his father Bill died in 2019, is also alleged to have scolded employees for laughing too loudly, walking too slowly, and using softer lighting in the office, among other minor complaints.
The franchise didn’t have a dedicated human resource director from 2008 until 2021. Arizona also didn’t have a fully staffed HR department until 2022. Some employees remained frightened that they’d lose their jobs if they brought their concerns to the team’s HR department.
Employees said they expressed concerns in a 2019 employment survey. Former front office executive Terry McDonough said Bidwill halted the survey after an expansive initial round of responses criticized the Cardinals’ culture and primarily blamed Bidwill.
In a statement Thursday, a team spokesperson denied that the organization ignored the 2019 survey, insisting that multiple initiatives arose from it, including the creation of the Chief People Officer role.
In January 2020, former COO Ron Minegar delivered a three-page letter to Bidwill indicating that employees were “working in fear.”
The Cardinals owner had reportedly yelled at Minegar during a presentation after the former COO was arrested for extreme DUI in August 2019. Bidwell is alleged to have said, “I wanted to fire your ass” and “Don’t f—–g do it again.”
The report is the latest to feature complaints against Bidwill. McDonough filed an arbitration claim in April alleging that the team owner devised a plan to use burner phones to illegally communicate with then-general manager Steve Keim, who was suspended for DUI, in 2018. McDonough also alleged that Bidwill mistreated pregnant and Black employees.
Former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks also gave testimony that supported McDonough’s claim this past August.
Bidwill issued a statement to The Athletic in response to the allegations.
“As I have said personally to every member of the Cardinals organization, I certainly have room to grow, and with the benefit of hindsight, would have done some things differently over the years,” he wrote. “I also know that my direct approach doesn’t always land well, and I’m working on that. I have always been driven by the desire to learn and improve and more importantly, to use those lessons in building the best organization possible.
“Over the last several years, we have taken significant steps to improve our culture and build a stronger community. We are a better and more inclusive organization today than we were yesterday and I’m extremely excited about what we can be tomorrow.”
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