Posts Tagged ‘New York State Human Rights Law’

Earlier this year, during the NFL’s scouting combine, an NFL team employee allegedly asked three prospective players about their sexual orientation.  Allegedly, one prospective player was asked whether he had a girlfriend, was married, or liked girls.  Toss a yellow flag on the field.  Parlaying employment law into football lingo, the penalties as follows:  illegal formation (of a quesiton); neutral zone infraction, unsportmanlike conduct, taunting, a palpably unfair act, and encroachment.

Such questions are likely to violate state and local laws that prohibit discrimination, based on sexual orientation, in hiring and employment.  For example, the New York State Human Rights Law makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate against or refuse to hire any individual because of sexual orientation and also prohibits employers form making any inquiry in connection with the prospective employment about an individual’s sexual orientation.  In fact, at least 20 of the NFL’s 32 teams are located in jurisdictions that similarly prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in hiring and employment.

Interestingly, the NFL’s 2011 collective bargaining agreement with its player’s union prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment based on sexual orientation , but the labor agreement does not appear to provide any protection to prospective players during the recruitment process.  Nonetheless, even without the protection of the collective bargaining agreement, it appears that such questions would still violate state or local law in nearly a third of the cities where the NFL has teams.

This article is authored by attorney Shannon O. Young and is intended for educational purposes and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law only, not to provide specific legal advice. Any particular questions should be directed to your legal counsel or, if you do not have one, please feel free to contact us.

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