The attorneys general of New York and California opened a joint investigation into allegations of workplace discrimination and unequal pay at NFL offices in both states in response to a February 2022 New York Times report about the treatment of women who work in the league. .
The announcement by Letitia James of New York and Rob Ponta of California comes a year after The Times interviewed more than 30 current and former NFL employees who described a stifling, demoralizing company culture that led some women to quit in frustration and that left many… frustration. aside.
“No matter how powerful or influential it may be, no institution is above the law, and we will ensure that the NFL is held accountable,” James said in a statement.
“We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and harmful work environment,” Ponta added.
The attorney general, who has issued subpoenas to the NFL seeking relevant information regarding their handling of the claims, said the university has not taken sufficient steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. There is no time limit on the length of the investigation.
The league said Thursday that it intends to “fully cooperate with the prosecutors,” adding in a statement that “these allegations are completely contrary to the NFL’s values and practices” and that it “does not tolerate discrimination in any form.”
“Our policies are intended not only to comply with all applicable laws, but also to promote a workplace that is free from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination,” the statement read.
The women’s allegations prompted attorneys general from six states in April 2022 to urge the NFL to address these and other workplace problems or face a formal investigation. The attorney general, led by James, also 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 to explain its policies and practices, but did not receive a response prior to Thursday’s announcement.
The NFL employs about 1,100 people in its offices in New York, New Jersey and California. According to an association spokesperson, 37 percent are women and 30 percent are people of color. The league has put more effort into diversifying hiring and has mandatory anti-racism training and an anonymous hotline – called Protect the Shield – for employee concerns.
But the women working there said the problems persist. The first, a high-ranking executive who left the league, Raising the issue of discrimination on the basis of age and gender in April against NFL Enterprises and NFL Properties – two of the league’s business divisions – as well as several executives.
The case was brought by Jennifer Love, who helped create NFL Network and rose over the course of 19 years to become the first vice president at the NFL Media Group. Love claimed that the league’s human resources department did not address her complaints about “rampant 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 Quinzel, told Love in March 2022 that her job had been terminated.
The Times reported that Quinzel, the NFL Network’s vice president and chief content officer, was accused of shoving a female colleague at rehearsal before the Super Bowl in 2020 and faced discipline from the league that included being forced to take an anger management course. A league spokesperson, speaking on behalf of Quinzel and the league last year, denied the allegation and insisted that Quinzel had not paid it.
Last year, the NFL’s workplace culture came under renewed scrutiny due to a discrimination lawsuit brought by Brian Flores, the former Afro-Latino coach of the Miami Dolphins. He claimed that the league had violated its rules that required teams to interview a variety of candidates for coaching and general manager positions.
Flores was fired by the Dolphins at the end of the 2021 season and, with no head coaching offers, was hired as an assistant defensive coach by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is now the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.
A New York federal judge ruled in March that Flores’ allegations of discrimination against the league were not subject to private arbitration, as the league had sought, opening the way for a public grievance.
Several teams have vehemently denied Flores’ allegations, and the NFL said last year that it was “strongly committed to ensuring fair hiring practices” and that we “will defend against these allegations, which are without merit.”
A congressional committee also investigated the NFL’s handling of allegations of widespread sexual harassment in the front office of Washington leaders. That committee requested tens of thousands of documents from the league and held a hearing in February 2022 in which the former employees spoke about their experiences working with the team. Two women made new allegations of harassment that directly implicated Danielle Snyder, the owner of the Commander.
Snyder denied the allegations, and the NFL opened a second investigation into the latest allegations.
The congressional investigation sought information from the NFL’s year-long preliminary investigation into reports of harassment filed against the Leaders organization, which ended with the league in July 2021 fining the team $10 million but refusing to make its full findings public. Snyder also agreed to hand over the 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 concluded that Snyder, with the help of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, suppressed evidence that Snyder and team managers had 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.
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