The attorneys general of New York and California launched a joint investigation into allegations of workplace discrimination and pay disparities at NFL offices in both states, responding to a February 2022 New York Times report on the league’s treatment of women employees. .
The announcement comes a year after Letitia James of New York and Rob Bonda of California interviewed more than 30 current and former NFL employees. On the one hand.
“No organization, no matter how powerful or influential, is above the law, and we will make sure the NFL is held accountable,” James said in a statement.
Bonda added: “We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and harmful work environment.”
The attorney general, who issued subpoenas to the NFL for information related to its handling of the claims, said the league did not take adequate steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. There is no time limit on the length of the trial.
The league said Thursday it wanted to “fully cooperate with the attorney general,” adding in a statement that “these allegations are completely inconsistent with the NFL’s values and practices” and that it “will not tolerate discrimination in any form.”
“Our policies are aimed not only at complying with all applicable laws, but also at fostering a workplace that is free of harassment, intimidation and discrimination,” the statement said.
The women’s allegations prompted attorneys general from six states in April 2022 to urge the NFL to address these and other workplace issues or face a formal investigation. The attorney general, led by James, asked victims and witnesses of discrimination in the NFL to file complaints with their offices.
The league said it wrote to Attorney General James and other attorneys general on May 18, 2022, outlining its policies and procedures, but did not receive a response before Thursday’s announcement.
About 1,100 people work in NFL offices in New York, New Jersey and California. According to a league spokesperson, 37 percent are women and 30 percent are people of color. The league has gone to great lengths to diversify its hiring and has mandatory racism training and an anonymous hotline for employee concerns — called Protect the Shield.
But the problems of women working there continue. One is a high-ranking executive who has left the league. Filed a case of age and gender discrimination April NFL Enterprises and NFL Properties — the league’s two business units — as well as several executives.
The lawsuit was brought by Jennifer Love, who helped create the NFL Network and rose more than 19 years to become the first female vice president at an NFL media group. Love said the league’s human resources department never addressed her complaints about “pervasive sexism in the workplace and that the NFL had a ‘boys club’ mentality.” She told human resources that several top male executives were openly hostile to her, and that men with less experience were repeatedly promoted above her.
According to her complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, one of those executives, Mark Guenzel, told Love in March 2022 that his job would be terminated.
Quenzel, NFL Network’s senior vice president and head of content, was accused of pushing a female co-worker at a practice before the Super Bowl in 2020 and faced discipline from the league, including being forced to take an anger management course, the Times reported. A league spokesman, who spoke on behalf of Quenzel and the league last year, denied the claim and insisted that Quenzel did not push her.
Last year, the NFL’s workplace culture came under renewed scrutiny due to a discrimination lawsuit filed by Brian Flores, an Afro-Latino former coach of the Miami Dolphins. He said the league violated its rules that require teams to interview a wide variety of candidates for head coach and general manager positions.
Flores was fired by the Dolphins at the end of the 2021 season and was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant defensive backs coach with no head coaching opportunities. He is now the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.
A federal judge in New York ruled in March that Flores’ claims of discrimination against the league were not subject to private arbitration, which the league had sought, opening the way for a public airing of his grievances.
Several teams have vociferously denied Flores’ claims, and the NFL said last year that it is “deeply committed to ensuring equal employment practices” and that “we will defend against these claims.”
A congressional panel also investigated the NFL’s handling of widespread sexual harassment claims in Washington’s front office. The group requested tens of thousands of documents from the league and held a hearing in February 2022 in which former employees spoke about their experiences serving on the team. Two women have come forward with new harassment allegations that directly target Commanders owner Danielle Snyder.
Snyder has denied the allegations, and the NFL has opened a second investigation into the latest claims.
The congressional inquiry sought information from the NFL’s early-year investigation into harassment reports made against the Commanders’ organization, which fined the league $10 million in July 2021 but declined to make its full findings public. Snyder agreed to hand over day-to-day operations of the team to his wife, Tanya, for a year.
Last December, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a 79-page report that, with the help of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, suppressed evidence that Snyder and team executives sexually harassed women who worked on the team over two decades.
Last month, Snyder reached an agreement in principle to sell the team for $6 billion.