Friday, 26 July 2013

New York's Legal Efforts to Combat Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Pro Sports

Earlier this year I wrote an article titled Loaded Question: Asking a draft prospect about his sexual orientation could land a team in a legal minefield for Sports Illustrated (page 16, March 25, 2013 issue). The article centered on the legality of NFL teams asking college players about their sexual orientation.

This week I spoke with Reuters Legal as a follow up to the article and specifically about recent efforts by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has invoked New York state’s human rights law, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, in warning leagues about sexual orientation discrimination. The NFL has responded by clarifying its policies and MLB and MLBPA have agreed to a new code of conduct barring sexual orientation discrimination.

The full interview is available to Westlaw subscribers but here is an excerpt:

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Reuters: Do you think these matters are in Schneiderman’s purview? Why or why not? 

McCann: My impression is that AG Schneiderman is well within his purview. For one, he is the highest ranking legal officer in New York and he’s entrusted with enforcing New York law. New York law clearly prohibits sexual discrimination in hiring. Second, the National Football League, Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players’ Association (not to mention several teams) are all headquartered in New York and a large extent of those leagues’ and union business activities run through New York. 

Reuters: Do you expect these policy efforts will make a difference in players’ and/or teams’ behavior in terms of the treatment and hiring of gays in sports? 

McCann: The policy efforts have already made an impact. The NFL has investigated teams that may have asked prospective players’ about their sexual orientation and the league has also pledged to aggressively enforce existing anti-discriminatory rules. MLB and Major League Baseball Players Association, for their part, have adopted a new code of conduct to strengthen protections against sexual discrimination. The more changes like these are made, the more I believe behavior will change.

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To read the rest, click here.

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