Attorneys general in California and New York said they are investigating the National Football League over possible violations of pay equity and anti-discrimination laws.
The probe comes roughly one month after a former NFL director filed an age and gender discrimination lawsuit against the NFL. Jennifer Love said she worked in a sexist work environment that often felt like a boys' club, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Prosecutors said the investigation is focused on NFL corporate offices in New York and Los Angeles, where more than 1,000 employees work.
Attorneys general from both states said they've subpoenaed the NFL for documents about possible violations. Prosecutors are asking for copies of the league's policies on workplace discrimination as well as any correspondence about what happens to employees after they've filed a grievance to managers and human resources, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. The NFL has 60 days to produce the documents, Bonta said.
"This is the first set of requests and it may not be the last," he told CBS MoneyWatch. "I wish it would take mere months, but it should be at least a year."
Bonta said one of the major thrusts of the investigation will be finding out if men and women in the same roles are being paid unequal wages.
New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that her office will "ensure the NFL is held accountable."
No tolerance for discrimination
The NFL defended its workplace practices, while saying in a statement that it plans to "fully cooperate with the attorneys general."
"These allegations are entirely inconsistent with the NFL's values and practices," the league said. "The NFL offices are places where employees of all genders, races and backgrounds thrive. We do not tolerate discrimination in any form."
Bonta said the NFL cooperating will help speed the investigation along faster.
Launched in 1920, the NFL is one of three major football leagues in the United States — along with the XFL and AFL, or the Arena Football League. The NFL is by far the most popular and successful among them, bringing in a record $11 billion in revenue during the 2021 season, according to Sportico estimates. The league has 32 teams, which all function as independent entities and set their own policies on workplace discrimination.
The NFL has a history of lawsuits and allegations centered on employee discrimination, Bonta and James said, pointing to a 2002 New York Times article that detailed how more than 30 former women who worked for the league said they had faced retaliation after filing workplace grievances.
State prosecutors ininto alleged workplace misconduct by executives of the Washington Commanders. The NFL also settled a lawsuit in 2018 with a former stylist for its network, Jami Cantor, who alleged sexual harassment and workplace retaliation.
James and other state attorneys general sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year asking him improve workplace conditions for women employees. Bonta and James said Thursday that the NFL has not done enough since then to address the issue.
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