N.Y. attorney general seeks clarification from NFL about scouting combine incident

March 14, 2013

Colorado tight end Nick Kasa at the NFL scouting combine (AP)

New York’s attorney general wrote Thursday to the NFL seeking a clarification of the league’s response to the incident in which a player said he was asked about his sexual orientation during the team-by-team interviewing process at last month’s scouting combine.

The NFL announced late last month that it would conduct an investigation after Color ado tight end Nick Kasa said during a radio interview, without identifying the team or teams involved, that he was asked whether he was married, has a girlfriend or likes girls.

Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of the state of New York, wrote in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dated Thursday that it is illegal in the state for an employer to make any inquiry expressing “limitation, specification or discrimination as to … sexual orientation” to a prospective employee.

“It is our understanding that at least 20 of the League’s 32 teams are located in jurisdictions that similarly prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment based on sexual orientation,” Schneiderman wrote to Goodell.

Schneiderman asked the league to “clarify its position by issuing a public statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by League teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated. I also urge the League to memorialize this commitment in a written policy that, once finalized, is appropriately distributed and disseminated throughout the league.”

The letter further requested that the NFL advise players to contact league officials about any similar incidents, and seeks a meeting with the NFL’s investigators.

An NFL spokesman said the league has been looking into the matter and will discuss it further at next week’s annual league meeting in Phoenix, and referred to the league’s Feb. 27 statement on the matter.

That statement by Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications, said: “Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws. 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.

“We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the Scouting Combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”

That came after Kasa said during an interview with a Denver radio station: “They ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?’ Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”

 

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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