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'unacceptable and potentially unlawful'

Attorneys general threaten to investigate NFL over work culture 'overtly hostile to women'

Six state attorneys general are threatening to investigate the NFL over its alleged "unacceptable and potentially unlawful" treatment of female employees. 

The group of attorneys general penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing "grave concerns" over allegations that the league's workplace culture "is overtly hostile to women," citing a recent report in The New York Times

The Times interviewed more than 30 women who have worked for the NFL, alleging the league's culture has "demoralized some female employees, drove some to quit in frustration and left many feeling brushed aside." The attorneys general raised concerns about a number of allegations, including that female employees "were subjected to repeated viewings" of a video of Ray Rice punching his fiancée, and that women were asked to self-identify as domestic violence victims. 

"This is NOT doing better," the letter says. "Antidiscrimination laws in many states, including New York, prohibit employers from subjecting domestic violence victims, as well as women and people of color, to a hostile work environment." 

The letter also cites the Times' reporting that a female employee alleged she was reprimanded for having an "aggressive tone" and that women were subjected to unwanted touching from bosses, attended work events where prostitutes were hired, and more. While the NFL "promised to take gender violence seriously and improve the institutional culture for women" after the Rice controversy in 2014, "these recent allegations suggest that you have not," the attorneys general said.

The letter was signed by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), as well as attorneys general from Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington. They warn the NFL that the allegations are "entirely unacceptable and potentially unlawful," demanding the league "do better." 

The NFL told the Times it shares the attorneys general's commitment to ensure its workplace is "diverse, inclusive and free from discrimination and harassment."