State agents promised to use the “full weight” of their power to investigate and prosecute allegations of harassment, discrimination or retaliation following recent reports from female NFL staff. The letter, released by James’ office, was signed by the agents of Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.
The warning comes as the NFL faces an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against the franchisor and is under scrutiny for its lack of diversity in leadership positions.
In the letter, the AGs cited a February report from the New York Times in which more than 30 former employees of the league described an anti-women workplace.
“The female employees described being subjected to unwanted touches from male superiors, attending parties at which prostitutes were hired, being unfairly criticized based on stereotypes, being overlooked for promotions on the basis of their gender, and being pushed to complain of discrimination,” the letter said. the report.
“In fact, some former employees have since learned that there are no records of their complaints of gender discrimination,” the letter continued.
The letter noted that nearly 37% of the 1,100 NFL employees are women, and 30% are people of color.
In a statement to CNN, the NFL said it shares “the attorney general’s commitment to ensuring that all of our workplaces — including the league’s office and 32 clubs — are diverse, inclusive, and free from discrimination and harassment.”
An NFL spokesperson, Brian McCarthy, said the organization “has made great strides” over the years, but acknowledged it, like many organizations, “has more work to do.”
“We look forward to the attorney general’s involvement in the policies, practices, protocols, educational programs and partnerships we have implemented to act in accordance with this commitment and to ensure that the league office and our clubs maintain a respectful workplace where all of our employees, including women, are,” McCarthy said.
State agents warned the NFL to address its “apparent continued inaction” in combating these issues, adding, “If true, the NFL’s failures may violate local, state, and federal anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit employers from discriminating against Women and people of color, victims of domestic violence, or exposing them to a hostile work environment” according to James’ statement.
NFL faces harassment and discrimination allegations
The NFL is currently investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Washington Corporation owner Dan Snyder.
One of Snyder’s lawyers said the allegations were “false, and Mr. Snyder has categorically denied them.”
Goodell says the league is taking the allegations “seriously”.
Flores accused the New York Giants and Denver Broncos of conducting bogus interviews in order to comply with the “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to interview at least two outside minority candidates for key coaching jobs.
The NFL called Flores’ allegations baseless, saying in a statement that “diversity is at the heart of everything we do.”
In late March, the NFL announced initiatives directly related to ongoing criticism about the league’s lack of diversity in leadership positions.
The NFL has created a six-member Diversity Advisory Committee that will review the league’s hiring policies and practices with “focusing on top-level coaches and front office staff positions.”
There is a new commitment in an area that has historically been difficult to penetrate for minorities: all 32 clubs are now required to hire a female minority offensive assistant or coach.
“This individual will receive a one-year contract and will work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience,” the NFL said. “Clubs will receive compensation from a league-wide fund for the coach’s salary for up to two years.”
The association added that the decision would promote the development of a “diverse offensive pipeline”.
CNN’s Wayne Sterling contributed to this report.