New York, California Launch Probe of NFL, Citing Allegations of Harassment, Discrimination
Two attorneys general said Thursday they are launching an investigation into allegations of harassment, gender and race discrimination and a hostile work environment at the National Football League.
New York AG Letitia James and California AG Rob Banta said the joint investigation “will examine the workplace culture of the NFL and allegations made by former employees, including potential violations of federal and state pay equity laws and anti-discrimination laws.”
The NFL has offices in New York and Inglewood, California, and employs about 1,100 people. The two AGs issued subpoenas to the NFL seeking information, they said in a statement.
“We take these matters seriously and will fully cooperate with the attorneys general,” the NFL said in a statement in response to the probe.
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The announcement pointed to a February 2022 New York Times report that cited more than 30 women who worked for the league who described “a stifling, deeply ingrained corporate culture that demoralized some female employees, drove some to quit in frustration and left many feeling brushed aside.”
James and six other state’s attorneys general sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to express concerns about that report and called on the league to address allegations of workplace inequity, the AG’s announcement said.
The NFL said it responded to that letter and was apparently surprised at the escalated investigation.
“We outlined many of the policies, practices, education programs and partnerships we have implemented to act on this commitment and invited the state attorneys general to meet and discuss our efforts in these areas,” the statement said. “We received no further communication from any of the attorneys general before today’s announcement.”
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Beyond the reporting, the attorneys general also pointed to an employment discrimination lawsuit filed last month in Los Angeles, in which a former director for NFL Enterprises sued over age and gender discrimination, along with other suits alleging racial discrimination against a Black female employee and a sexual harassment complaint from a female wardrobe stylist, “among others.”
In 2022, the congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform probed allegations of workplace misconduct by then-owner of the Washington Commanders, Daniel Snyder. The investigation found that the the owner established a “culture of fear” within the team and attempted to interfere with the probe. Last month, Snyder reached a deal to sell the team for $6 billion.
The NFL pushed back on the narrative. “These allegations are entirely inconsistent with the NFL’s values and practices,” the league’s statement said. “The NFL offices are places where employees of all genders, races and backgrounds thrive. We do not tolerate discrimination in any form.”
It continued, “The NFL is committed to ensuring all employees of the league are respected, treated fairly, and have equitable pay and access to developmental opportunities. Our policies are intended not only to comply with all applicable laws but to foster a workplace free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination.”
But the attorneys general said the league hasn’t made enough effort to root out the problems.
“Despite reports and allegations of abuse perpetrated by both players and male staff, reports that the NFL has not taken sufficient effective steps to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation from occurring in the workplace persist.”
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