Why is the NFL being investigated by two Attorneys General?
Considering all that has happened off the field over the last year, perhaps this could well be a step in the direction of greater transparency and equality in the league.
Football fans have definitely seen their share of controversy in recent times. From John Gruden’s e-mail scandal to Dan Snyder’s toxic workplace environment which eventually forced the sale of the entire franchise. Also, who could forget the Brian Flores debacle in Miami? The point is, the league has come under fire in recent times and it all seems to come back to the same thing: a lack of equality and fairness.
NFL to be investigated by Attorneys General of New York & California
If you’ve got the above-mentioned factors in mind, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that reports now confirm that a joint investigation has been launched into workplace discrimination in the NFL. Indeed, Attorneys General Letitia James of New York and Rob Bonta of California announced on Thursday that they will be looking into allegations of workplace discrimination in the league. To that end, a subpoena has already been issued with the idea that the NFL will relinquish all of the relevant information.
“No person should ever have to endure harassment, discrimination, or abuse in the workplace,” James said in a press release. “No matter how powerful or influential, no institution is above the law, and we will ensure the NFL is held accountable.” Bonta added his view as well, stating that “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.” It’s worth noting that the NFL was quick to respond to the report, indicating that there is every intention to cooperate with the investigation. “These allegations are entirely inconsistent with the N.F.L.’s values and practices. Our policies are intended not only to comply with all applicable laws but to foster a workplace free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination,” read the league’s statement
Where does the investigation into the NFL stem from?
What’s interesting here is that both James and Bonta cited a New York Times article from February 2022, in which workplace discrimination is detailed at the NFL itself, rather than a team in the league. As per the report, more than 30 former female employees alleged they had been treated unfairly by the league due to their gender and sometimes their race as well. To be clear, allegations ranged from the denial of raises and promotions to inappropriate and aggressive physical contact in the workplace. There was even an account of one woman of color who was allegedly offered an “exit package” after she informed the HR department that she believed her superior was biased.
It doesn’t stop there either. James and Bonta also go on to mention additional lawsuits, one of which was brought against the league by former NFL Enterprises executive, Jennifer Love, who is credited with a role in the development and launch of the NFL Network in the early 2000s. Indeed, Love did in fact become the first female vice president of the NFL Media Group in 2010. As per the suit, she alleged that she was subjected to both age and gender discrimination by her colleagues and supervisors in what she described as a hostile work environment. Love referred to two of her male VP colleagues by name, saying that neither would even acknowledge her. There are also other suits which were mentioned in which there are claims of sexual harassment in addition to targeted racial discrimination.
From Brian Flores to Dan Snyder
As one may recall, there was also the case of former Miami Dolphins coach, Brian Flores, who sued the league as well as other teams after alleging that he had been the victim of racial discrimination in the league’s hiring practices. Flores was in fact joined by other Black NFL coaches who claimed to have experienced the same. Lastly, there was of course former Washington Commanders owner, Dan Snyder, who was forced to sell his team after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct were lodged against him. To be clear, the NFL employs roughly 1,100 employees who are split between offices in New York, New Jersey and California. Of those 37% are women and 30% are people of color according to 2022 figures. Watch this space.
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