Attorneys General James and Bonta to Investigate NFL’s Treatment of Women

In response to a New York Times report in February 2022 on the treatment of women working for the league, the attorneys general of New York and California launched a joint investigation into allegations of workplace discrimination and pay disparity in NFL offices in both states. ,

The announcement by Letitia James of New York and Rob Bonta of California comes a year after the Times interviewed more than 30 current and former NFL employees, who described a stifling and demoralizing corporate culture that forced some women Desperation prompted her to quit and that disappointed many. one side.

“No matter how powerful or influential, no institution is above the law, and we will make sure the NFL is held accountable,” James said in a statement.

Bonta said: “We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and harmful work environment.”

The attorney general, who issued subpoenas for relevant information regarding the NFL’s handling of the claims, said the league did not do enough to prevent discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. There is no time limit on the period of investigation.

The league said Thursday that it intended to “cooperate fully with the attorney general,” saying in a statement that “these allegations are completely inconsistent with the values ​​and practices of the NFL” and that “any form of does not tolerate discrimination.”

“Our policies are intended not only to comply with all applicable laws but also to promote a workplace free of harassment, intimidation and discrimination,” the statement said.

The women’s allegations prompted attorneys general of six states in April 2022 to encourage the NFL to address these and other workplace problems or face a formal investigation. Attorneys 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 James and other attorneys general on May 18, 2022, outlining its policies and practices, but received no response before Thursday’s announcement.

About 1,100 people work for the NFL in its offices in New York, New Jersey and California. According to a spokesperson for the league, 37 percent are women and 30 percent are people of color. The league has made more efforts to diversify its hiring and has mandated anti-racism training and an anonymous hotline – called Protect the Shield – for staff concerns.

But women who work there said problems persist. One, a high-ranking executive whose job was set to end in March 2022 and left the league, filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit in April against NFL Enterprises and NFL Properties — the league’s two business divisions — as well as along with many officers.

That case was brought by Jennifer Love, who helped create NFL Network and rose more than 19 years to become the first female vice president at NFL Media Group. Love claimed that the league’s human resources department never addressed her complaints about “pervasive sexism in the workplace and the ‘boys’ club’ mentality of the NFL”. She told human resources and her managers that several top male executives were openly hostile to her and that men with less experience were repeatedly promoted over her.

According to her complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, one of those officers, Mark Quenzel, told Love in March 2022 that her job was being terminated.

The Times reported that Quenzel, NFL Network’s senior vice president and head of content, was accused of pushing a female colleague at a rehearsal before the Super Bowl in 2020 and faced discipline from the league that included taking anger management courses. Involved being forced to A spokesperson for the league, speaking on behalf of Quenzel and the league last year, denied the claim and insisted that Quenzel did not push him.

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 claimed that the league flouted its rules, which required teams to interview a diverse range of candidates for the head coach and general manager positions.

Flores was fired by the Dolphins at the end of the 2021 season and hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant defensive coach without any head coaching offers. 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, as the league had sought, opening the way for a public airing of his complaints.

Several teams have vehemently denied Flores’ claims, and the NFL said last year that it is “deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices” and “we will defend against these claims, which are without merit.” are without.”

A congressional committee investigated claims by the NFL of widespread sexual harassment in the Washington Commander’s front office. That committee requested thousands of documents from the league and held a hearing in February 2022 in which former employees spoke about their experiences working for the team. Two women brought new allegations of harassment, directly involving Commanders’ owner Danielle Snyder.

Snyder has denied the allegations, and the NFL has launched a second investigation into the recent claims.

The congressional inquiry sought information from the NFL’s preliminary annual investigation into reports of harassment made against the Commanders’ organization, which ended in July 2021 with the league fining the team $10 million, but not making its full findings public. Refused to do. Snyder also 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 concluded that Snyder, aided by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, suppressed evidence that Snyder and team officials had colluded with the team for two decades. sexually harassed women working in

Last month, Snyder reached an agreement in principle to sell the team for $6 billion.