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Sunday, May 19, 2024

NFL Facing Joint Investigation By California, New York

  • Attorneys general in California and New York say joint probe will center around workplace discrimination.
  • NFL says it "will fully cooperate" with investigation that includes allegations related to NFL Network.
Attorneys general in California and New York say joint probe will center around workplace discrimination.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is the target of another workplace investigation — and this time, it’s not just about the league’s handling of the Washington Commanders. 

On Thursday, the attorneys general in California and New York announced a joint probe of the NFL that will examine if the league violated federal and state employment discrimination laws.

“We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and detrimental work environment,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James added, “No person should ever have to endure harassment, discrimination, or abuse in the workplace.”

The news release announcing the probe listed the reasons for the investigation. 

  • A former director for NFL Enterprises filed a lawsuit in California last month alleging she was retaliated against for raising concerns of “pervasive sexism” to human resources before being laid off last year. 
  • A former NFL Network wardrobe stylist’s 2017 lawsuit led to the firings of Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, and Ike Taylor. Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis, who were also accused of harassment in the lawsuit from their time at NFL Network, were terminated by ESPN. 
  • How the league handled the Commanders’ hostile workplace allegations that were the focal point of an investigation by the House Oversight Committee that concluded in December. 

In the statement, the two attorneys general stated that they will use their authority “to seek information from the NFL regarding allegations of gender pay disparities in compensation, harassment, and gender and race discrimination.” 

“Our policies are intended not only to comply with all applicable laws but to foster a workplace free from harassment, intimidation, and discrimination,” read a statement by the NFL. “We take these matters seriously and will fully cooperate with the attorneys general.”

The NFL responded to an inquiry from James after she inquired about the the league’s handling of the Commanders’ toxic workplace issues. In a six-page response last June, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote that those within the league “recognize our powerful standing as a world leader in sports and entertainment, and embrace our responsibility to lead by example.”

The investigation was lauded by Lisa Banks, whose firm represents more than 40 Commanders employees.

“From my perspective, it’s always good when a large entity like the NFL is held accountable for not only fostering a hostile work environment, but in the case of the Commanders, covering it up,” Banks told Front Office Sports.

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