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Post date: April 24 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Agreement With National Football League To Strengthen Policies Against Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation

After Meeting With AG’s Office, League Strengthens Efforts To Protect Current & Prospective Gay Players

Schneiderman: My Office Is Committed To Ensuring Equal Protection For All Employees And Job Applicants No Matter Where They Work

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced new efforts underway within the National Football League (NFL) to promote a culture of inclusion and protect players from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. Following discussions with the Attorney General's office, the NFL will undertake new actions to reinforce its policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation, including thedevelopmentand dissemination of posters to be displayedin locker rooms throughout the league conveying the NFL’s anti-discrimination policies.

The NFL will also take steps to distribute the policy to all 32 teams in the league, conduct training across the league around the policy -- including for rookies and individuals involved in hiring and recruitment of new players -- and strengthen protocols concerning the reporting of complaints of discrimination or harassment by players. 
“My office is committed to ensuring equal protection under the law for all employees and job applicants no matter where they work, and I applaud the NFL for working cooperatively with our office to address these issues,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today, we are sending a powerful message that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in any form.”

Earlier this year, media reports indicated that at least three prospective NFL players were asked questions related to their sexual orientation at the league’s national recruitment Scouting Combine held in late February 2013 in Indianapolis. According to one prospective player, representatives of NFL teams asked prospects if they had a girlfriend, were married, or liked girls.
Following those reports, the Attorney General's office opened an inquiry into the matter, which included a review of the NFL's existing prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation reflected in the League's 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement governing employment relationships between NFL teams and active players. Following its review, the Attorney General's office asked the NFL to undertake additional action to ensure that its policy is well-communicated, widely disseminated and effectively implemented.

As a result of the NFL's cooperation with the Attorney General's office, the NFL will take steps to implement and communicate its policy league-wide. This commitment includes developing and widely distributing an anti-discrimination policy document that will be posted in all team locker rooms across the NFL and disseminating the policy to Club managers, human resource executives and other NFL employees. 
In addition, the NFL has incorporated a Commissioner-issued statement into the policy, and will conduct training around the policy during its annual Rookie Symposium and Football Operations Meeting, and host other periodic training meetings throughout the year. The NFL's efforts make clear that the league's existing policy also applies to prospective players.
Moreover, the NFL will ensure that complaints concerning discrimination based on sexual orientation are reviewed and investigated, and take steps to ensure the confidentiality of complainants and supporting witnesses. Finally, the NFL agreed to report periodically to the Attorney General’s office on the league’s progress in maintaining its zero-tolerance approach to discrimination in the workplace. 
"The NFLPA appreciates Attorney General Schneiderman's leadership to ending discrimination and to hold the NFL owners accountable to the highest professional standards in our workplace," said Domonique Foxworth, President of the NFL Players Association.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General James Katz, Clare Norins and Anjana Samant, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Marty Mack and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.

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