Attorneys General James and Bonta launch investigation into National Football League workplace practices and culture

(CNN) An investigation has been opened into allegations of employment discrimination and a hostile work environment at the National Football League (NFL), according to a joint statement from New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Rob Good.

It’s been just over a year since the NFL was warned by a coalition of six attorneys general to take “quick action” to improve conditions for female employees.

In a statement Thursday, the New York and California attorneys general said the joint investigation “will examine the NFL’s work culture and allegations made by former employees, including potential violations of federal and state laws. pay equity and anti-discrimination laws”. He said the NFL has offices in New York and California with more than 1,000 employees.

Attorneys general issued subpoenas to the NFL on Thursday seeking relevant information, the statement said.

“No one should ever have to experience harassment, discrimination or objectification in the workplace,” said New York Attorney General James. “No matter how powerful or influential, no institution is above the law, and we will ensure the NFL is held accountable.”

“California will not tolerate any form of discrimination,” California Attorney General Bonta said. “We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and damaging work environment. No company is too big or popular to avoid being held accountable for its actions.”

In a statement to CNN on Thursday, the NFL said the allegations were “entirely inconsistent” with league values ​​and practices.

“NFL offices are places where employees of all genders, races and backgrounds thrive. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination,” the statement added.

“The NFL is committed to ensuring that all league employees are respected, treated fairly, and provided with fair pay and access to development opportunities. Our policies not only aim to comply with all laws applicable, but to foster a workplace free from harassment, bullying and discrimination.

“We take these matters seriously and will cooperate fully with the attorneys general.”

In Thursday’s statement, Attorneys General James and Bonita cited a New York Times report from February 2022, which detailed more than 30 former employees alleging gender discrimination and retaliation after filing complaints with the Human Resources Division. of the NFL.

The Times reported at the time: “They described a stifling, deeply ingrained corporate culture that demoralized some employees, caused some to quit in frustration, and left many feeling left out.”

In April 2022, Attorney General James led a coalition of six attorneys general in sending a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing their concerns and asking the league to respond to allegations of workplace inequality. About 37% of the NFL’s 1,100 employees are women and 30% are people of color, the letter says, according to CNN information.

In a statement to CNN at the time, the NFL said it shares “the Attorneys General’s commitment to ensuring that all of our workplaces – including the league office and 32 clubs – are diverse, inclusive and free from discrimination and harassment.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told CNN in April 2022 that the organization had “made great strides” over the years, but acknowledged that it, like many organizations, “still has some work to do. work to do”.

A lawsuit has been filed in recent weeks in Los Angeles Superior Court where a former manager filed an employment discrimination claim, alleging discrimination based on age, sex and gender and an environment of hostile work, according to the attorney general’s statement. They said additional lawsuits filed against the NFL relate to racial discrimination against a black employee and sexual harassment of a wardrobe stylist, among others.

The attorneys general said Thursday, “Reports that the NFL has failed to take sufficient effective measures to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace persist.”

The statement added, “Attorney General James and Attorney General Bonta are exercising their legal authority to request information from the NFL regarding allegations of gender pay gaps in compensation, harassment and discrimination based on sex and the race.”

CNN’s Jill Martin contributed reporting.

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