East Meets West As AG James And Bonta Launch Investigation Into NFL’s Workplace

May 4, 2023

New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a joint investigation into allegations of employment discrimination.

This includes a hostile work environment at the National Football League (NFL). The NFL has offices in New York and California with more than 1,000 employees. The joint investigation will examine the workplace culture of the NFL and allegations made by former employees, including potential violations of federal and state pay equity laws and anti-discrimination laws. The attorneys general today issued subpoenas to the NFL seeking relevant information. 

“No person should ever have to endure harassment, discrimination, or abuse in the workplace,” said 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,” said California Attorney General Bonta. “We have serious concerns about the NFL’s role in creating an extremely hostile and detrimental work environment. No company is too big or popular to avoid being held responsible for their actions.”

In February 2022, the New York Times reported on more than 30 former female employees alleging gender discrimination and retaliation after they had filed complaints with the NFL’s human resources division. In April 2022, Attorney General James led a coalition of six attorneys general in sending a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to express their concerns and call on the league to address allegations of workplace inequity.

More recently, a former female manager filed an employment discrimination lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging age, sex, and gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. Additional lawsuits filed against the NFL pertain to race discrimination targeting a Black female employee and sexual harassment of a female wardrobe stylist, among others. Last year, the United States Congressional Committee on Oversight and Reform initiated a congressional inquiry into allegations of workplace misconduct by an NFL team owner. The Committee held oversight hearings to determine the magnitude of the situation, including the role played by NFL leadership and included calls for reform in its report. 

Despite reports and allegations of abuse perpetrated by both players and male staff, reports that the NFL has not taken sufficient effective steps to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation from occurring in the workplace persist. Attorney General James and Attorney General Bonta are exercising their legal authority to seek information from the NFL regarding allegations of gender pay disparities in compensation, harassment, and gender and race discrimination. 

Attorney General James has consistently worked to defend workers’ rights and address harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In March 2023, Attorney General James recovered $24,000 for employees of Build With Prospect, a design-build company that stole wages from its employees. In October 2022, Attorney General James secured $90,000 in stolen and unpaid wages for more than a dozen former employees of a commercial dry cleaner in Queens. In July 2022, Attorney General James delivered $500,000 to current and former employees of a Manhattan bar for enduring sexual harassment, discrimination, and wage theft. In May 2022, Attorney General James secured more than $2.9 million for hundreds of New York City Marriott workers who were denied full severance pay. In April 2022, Attorney General James recovered $175,000 for Gotham Pizza workers who were cheated out of their pay. In September 2021, Attorney General James recovered $400,000 for Long Island laundry workers who were unlawfully fired during the pandemic. In July 2021, Attorney General James delivered $600,000 to survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination at restaurants owned by famed chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. In 2020, she secured $240,000 for 11 former employees of Kenneth Friedman-owned New York City restaurant The Spotted Pig

This matter was handled for New York by Senior Counsel Sandra Pullman of the Civil Rights Bureau with assistance from Deputy Bureau Chief Travis England. The Civil Rights Bureau is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.

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