ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged the NFL on Thursday to investigate whether possible draft picks were improperly asked about their sexual orientation during the league’s combine, which he said would be illegal in New York.
“We ask that the league immediately issue a statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by league teams or players against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractor law and will not be tolerated,” Schneiderman said in a letter dated Thursday and released to news organizations.
Schneiderman asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to call him by next Wednesday to schedule a meeting on the matter.
“I also urge the league to memorialize this commitment in a written policy that, once finalized, is appropriately distributed and disseminated throughout the league,” said Schneiderman. “Our office stands prepared to offer guidance and support in the development of this policy.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was already looking into the issue and would discuss it at its meeting next week in Phoenix.
“Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws,” the NFL said in a Feb. 27 statement. “It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation.”
It concluded: “Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”
Last month, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa said during a radio appearance in Denver that during interviews with team officials at the combine in Indianapolis: “(Teams) ask you, like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ ‘Are you married?’ ‘Do you like girls?’”
He did not identify who asked him.
Since then, Michigan’s Denard Robinson and Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell each have indicated in radio interviews that they were asked similar questions.
Schneiderman reminded Goodell that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in New York and in at least 23 other states where the NFL’s 32 teams are based.
“In New York State, we have no tolerance for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation,” he said in the letter. “Employment discrimination is ethically wrong and illegal no matter who the employer is. I hope we can work together with the National Football League to send a powerful message that employment discrimination will not be tolerated in any form.”
In February, DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFL players association, said in a statement that, “I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights.”
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