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Attorney General Rob Bonta. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Calif., NY Attorneys General Announce Investigation Into NFL Employment Discrimination

‘If this issue is so widespread, why are investigations happening in only two states?’

By Evan Symon, May 4, 2023 12:39 pm

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, along with New York Attorney General Letitia James, announced Thursday they will be investigating allegations of employment discrimination and a hostile work environment at the National Football League (NFL).

Allegations, investigations, and court cases around employment discrimination and a hostile work environment in the NFL have been growing for years according to Bonta and James. James said in a letter sent to the NFL last year that the league made promises to look into how women were treated by the league, since 2014 following the Raymond Rice incident, when a video of the player attacking his then-fiancée surfaced. However, she and several other Attorneys General said that the NFL was not changing anything given the increase in allegations.

“In the aftermath, you promised to take gender violence seriously and improve the institutional culture for women at the N.F.L,” James said last year. “These recent allegations suggest that you have not. Female employees reported that they were subjected to repeated viewings of the Rice video, with commentary by coworkers that the victim had brought the violence on herself. Other women reported that, in a training intended to improve sensitivity on the issue, they were asked to raise their hand to self-identify if they had been victims of domestic violence or knew someone who had. This is NOT doing better. Antidiscrimination laws in many states, including New York, prohibit employers from subjecting domestic violence victims, as well as women and people of color, to a hostile work environment.”

Compounding this was a 2022 New York Times report that found more than 30 former female employees were alleging gender discrimination and retaliation. They filed complaints with the NFL’s human resources division. A Los Angeles Superior Court employment discrimination case Wass filed last month by a former female manager alleging age, sex and gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. Along with other lawsuits and a Congressional inquiry and report, the number allegations grew to such a level that both Bonta and James took the unprecedented step of investigating the league’s workplace practices and culture on Thursday.

According to the California and New York Attorneys General, “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 Attorneys General today issued subpoenas to the NFL seeking relevant information.”

NFL Pushes Back

AG Bonta said in a statement Thursday, “California will not tolerate any form of discrimination. We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and detrimental work environment. No company is too big or popular to avoid being held responsible for their actions.”

“No person should ever have to endure harassment, discrimination, or objectification in the workplace. No matter how powerful or influential, no institution is above the law, and we will ensure the NFL is held accountable,” AG James said.

The NFL responded with a statement of their own later on Thursday, pushing back: “The allegations are entirely inconsistent with the NFL’s values and practices. The NFL offices are places where employees of all genders, races and backgrounds thrive. We do not tolerate discrimination in any form. 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.”

In an interview with the Globe, an athletics legal expert added that Bonta and James would likely have a hard time bringing forth anything significant due to both the NFL having gone through legal challenges on the issues before and the overall changes that the league has made in the past several years to address the issue.

“The NFL has made a lot of changes in the last decade, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because women make up such a big percentage of their fan base, not to mention all of those other fans who side with those giving allegations,” legal advisor Tim Howland told the Globe. “As fans know, the NFL has had a lot of issues to contend with, ranging from CTE and brain damage being linked to suicides of former players to dozens of criminal cases and sexual assaults by players to player safety issues, and just so many other things. They can’t afford to have widespread front office issues like employment discrimination at this point, especially with so many steps taken as far back as 2007 to curb it and end it. Also, if this issue is widespread, why are investigations happening in only two states? There are league offices everywhere, with New York and California only hosting 6 of the 32 teams in the league. There is definitely something more personal at play here if this is how these two are investigating it.”

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4 thoughts on “Calif., NY Attorneys General Announce Investigation Into NFL Employment Discrimination

  1. California AG Rob Bonta and New York AG Letitia James are investigating NFL employment discrimination while crime is out of control in both their states? Why aren’t they also investigating the NBA appears to have similar issues? Will they investigate whether there is racial and gender discrimination at the NFL where almost 60 percent are black and male and also investigate the NBA where over 75 percent of the players are black and male? Can we depend on California AG Rob Bonta and New York AG Letitia James to conduct unbiased investigations when both are ethically challenged Democrats?

    1. That’s right TJ, open up that ridiculous can of worms. Just why is it the NBA is over 75% black while they are only 13% of the population, HA HA HA

    2. Good questions, TJ.
      I guess for these two unsavory AGs what could be more effectively self-promoting than to “investigate” a high-profile organization such as the NFL and loudly and self-righteously make much of the “discrimination against women” angle? Supporters and potential supporters of these AGs (whoever they could possibly be) likely HATE the NFL and as we know one of the goals of the lefty destroyers is to see it brought down. “Discrimination against women” is the AGs’ ticket to achieve that (they think) and increase their national name recognition at the same time. Phonies.

  2. Crime has spiraled out of control in this state, serious and violent crime, and our pathetic AG is chasing down NFL employment violations are you serious!

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