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NFL, New York reach sexual orientation discrimination agreement

As football fans debate prospects for this years' National Football League draft, which begins April 25, the league and New York officials have hammered out an agreement to reduce the likelihood of discrimination in the sport. Each year, NFL teams prepare for the draft by holding what is known as "the combine." NFL prospects show their abilities before the NFL teams and also meet with officials and coaches of the teams during the combine. This spring, several NFL prospects noted following the scouting combine that they had been asked whether they had girlfriends, or if they liked girls.

Many commentators say that the alleged questions raised homophobic concerns. The NFL says that the league has had anti-discrimination policies in place to prevent harassment and discrimination within the ranks. However, the league--based in New York--has entered into an agreement with the New York Attorney General that is intended to better protect players (and prospects) from harassment and discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

Following the combine, NFL officials say that the league reviewed its long-standing anti-discrimination policies. The league says that under an agreement with the New York Attorney General, league officials will act more proactively in communicating its anti-discrimination policies throughout the league. An NFL spokesman told CBS News that, "We more recently met with the New York Attorney General's office to reiterate that policy and our plans to reinforce it to our players, teams and staff in the near future."

The league will require all teams to display anti-discrimination posters in each locker room across the country. More detailed descriptions of the policy will be distributed to each NFL team, and player handbooks will address the gravity of the league's stance on workplace harassment and discrimination. The league also stresses that it will investigate complaints of discrimination or harassment based upon sexual orientation.

Obviously, the NFL involves a high-profile situation. Most workers in New York may not be directly affected by the agreement between the NFL and the New York AG's office concerning discrimination and harassment issues in the league. It is important to note for workers in New York that human rights laws protect workers from discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Source: CBS Sports, "NFL, NY attorney general reach deal on anti-discrimination agreement," Mike Freeman, April 23, 2013

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