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The California and New York Attorney General just announced a joint investigation into allegations of employment discrimination and a hostile work environment at the National Football League. The NFL has offices in New York and California with more than 1,000 employees.

The joint investigation will examine the workplace culture of the NFL and allegations made by former employees, including potential violations of federal and state pay equity laws and anti-discrimination laws. The Attorneys General issued subpoenas to the NFL seeking relevant information.

The joint press release cites examples such as the February 2022 New York Times report on more than 30 former female employees alleging gender discrimination and retaliation after they had filed complaints with the NFL’s human resources division.

According to the times, the women they interviewed “described a stifling, deeply ingrained corporate culture that demoralized some female employees, drove some to quit in frustration and left many feeling brushed aside.

The women said this culture has persisted despite a promise from N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell – made after the 2014 release of a video that showed running back Ray Rice punching his fiancée unconscious – that the league would take a stricter stance on domestic violence and sexual assault and hire more female executives.

The Times also reports that the former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who is Black and Hispanic, sued the league for racial discrimination in its hiring practices, and two former employees of the newly renamed Washington Commanders told Congress that the team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, had placed his hand on a female employee’s thigh at a staff dinner and hosted a work event where team executives hired prostitutes.

The AG announcement specifically noted that, in April 2023 Jennifer Love, a former director for NFL Enterprises LLC, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging age, sex and gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. She alleged “pervasive sexism” in the workplace and a “boys’ club” mentality among male peers, while attributing her 2022 layoff to retaliation for her complaints.

According to the AG press release, additional lawsuits have been filed against the NFL pertain to race discrimination targeting a Black female employee and sexual harassment of a female wardrobe stylist, amongst others.

Last year, the U.S. Congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform initiated a congressional inquiry into allegations of workplace misconduct by an NFL team owner. The Committee held oversight hearings to determine the magnitude of the situation, including the role played by NFL leadership.

The Committee’s investigation report said that “sexual harassment, bullying, and other toxic conduct pervaded the Commanders workplace, perpetuated by a culture of fear instilled by the Team’s owner. Despite the NFL’s knowledge, through its internal investigation, that the Team’s owner permitted and participated in the workplace misconduct, and engaged in tactics used to intimidate, surveil, and pay off victims, the NFL aligned its legal interests with the Commanders, failed to curtail these abusive tactics, and buried the investigation’s findings.”

Today’s report reflects the damning findings of the Committee’s year-long investigation and shows how one of the most powerful organizations in America, the NFL, mishandled pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct at the Washington Commanders,” said Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

Despite reports and allegations of abuse perpetrated by both players and male staff, the Attorney General claims allegations that the NFL has not taken sufficient effective steps to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation from occurring in the workplace persist.

The Attorneys General of California and New York say they are exercising their legal authority to seek information from the NFL regarding allegations of gender pay disparities in compensation, harassment, and gender and race discrimination.

The N.F.L. employs about 1,100 people, 37 percent of them women and 30 percent people of color, according to the league spokesman Brian McCarthy. Like corporations around the country, it has poured more effort into diversifying its hiring. It has also put in place measures intended to signal support of a diverse work force, such as mandatory antiracism training and an anonymous hotline – called Protect the Shield – for employees’ concerns.