State prosecutors vowed to use the full weight of their authority to investigate and prosecute allegations of harassment, discrimination or retaliation following recent reports from female NFL employees. The letter, released by James’ office, was co-signed by AGs from Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.
The warning comes as the NFL faces an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against a franchise owner and comes under scrutiny for its lack of diversity in leadership positions.
In the letter, the AGs cite a February New York Times report in which more than 30 former league employees described a workplace hostile to women.
“Female employees described experiencing unwanted touching by male bosses, attending parties where prostitutes were hired, facing unfair criticism based on stereotypes, being passed over for promotions based on their gender, and being fired for complaining of discrimination,” the letter said. , citing the report.
“In fact, some former female employees have since learned that there were no records of their gender discrimination complaints,” the letter continues.
Approximately 37% of the 1,100 NFL employees are women and 30% are people of color, the letter states.
In a statement to CNN, 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 said the organization has “made great strides” over the years but acknowledged that, like many organizations, it “has more work to do.”
“We look forward to sharing with the attorneys general the policies, practices, protocols, educational programs and partnerships we have put in place to fulfill this commitment and confirm that the league office and our clubs maintain a respectful workplace where all of our employees, including women, have the opportunity to thrive,” McCarthy said.
State prosecutors warned the NFL to address “its apparent continued inaction” to combat these problems, adding that “if true, the NFL’s failures may violate federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit employers from discriminating against women, people of color, and victims of domestic violence, or subjecting them to a hostile work environment,” according to James’ statement.
NFL faces accusations of harassment and discrimination
The NFL is currently investigating sexual harassment allegations against Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder.
One of Snyder’s attorneys said the allegations are “false and have been categorically denied by Mr. Snyder.”
Goodell says the league takes the allegations “very seriously.”
Flores accused the New York Giants and Denver Broncos of holding bogus interviews to comply with the “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to interview at least two outside minority candidates for head coaching jobs.
The NFL called Flores’ allegations baseless, saying in a statement that “diversity is fundamental to everything we do.”
In late March, the NFL announced initiatives directly related to ongoing criticism of the lack of diversity in the league’s leadership positions.
The NFL created a six-member diversity advisory committee that will review the league’s hiring policies and practices with a “focus on high-level coaching positions and front office staff.”
A new commitment is in an area that has historically been difficult for minorities to break through: All 32 clubs are now required to hire a female or minority offensive assistant coach.
“This person will receive a one-year contract and will work closely with the head coach and offensive staff to gain experience. Clubs will receive reimbursement from a league-wide fund for coach salary for up to 2 years,” the NFL said.
The league added that the resolution would promote the development of “the diverse offensive line.”
CNN’s Wayne Sterling contributed to this report.