The National Football League has been warned against inquiring into the sexual orientation of prospective players and urged to do more to make sure teams do not ask those questions, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said today.
"Employment discrimination is ethically wrong and illegal no matter who the employer is," Schneiderman said.
Three players at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, Le'veon Bell of Michigan State, Nick Kasa of Colorado and Denard Robinson of the University of Michigan, said in interviews that were asked whether they had girlfriends or whether they liked girls.
"They ask you 'Do you have a girlfriend, are you married, do you like girls,'" Kasa told CJ and Kreckman of ESPN Radio in Denver.
The questions appear to have been asked in the wake of the fake girlfriend hoax involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. Te'o, however, has said he was not asked those questions in his combine interviews. He denied to Katie Couric on the ABC show "Katie," however, that he was gay.
New York State employment discrimination laws prohibit companies that are based in the state from asking employees or potential job candidates about their sexual orientation. The attorney general's office said the NFL's headquarters are in New York and at least 20 of the 32 NFL teams are located in jurisdictions that have similar laws in place.
Under the terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement teams are not allowed to discriminate against players who are currently under contract. Schneiderman is hoping the NFL will adopt a similar policy for prospects.
"Everyone deserves equal protection under the law and the right to a fair workplace," Schneiderman said.
The NFL said it has been looking into the matter and will discuss it further next week during a league meeting in Phoenix.
"It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement Feb. 27. "Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline."
Domonique Foxworth, president of the NFL Players Association, said, "I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman's efforts to make sure that the NFL is meeting its responsibility to weed out discrimination in the recruiting process and ensure all NFL players have equal access to a fair workplace."
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said, "Even if this was just one ignorant employee on one team asking one prospect, the fact that anyone involved with the NFL would think this is acceptable proves how much education needs to be done, on LGBT issues and employment law."