NEW YORK - The New York attorney general warned the National Football League Thursday against inquiring into the sexual orientation of prospective players and urged it do more to make sure team officials don't ask college recruits or current players those questions.
"Employment discrimination is ethically wrong and illegal no matter who the employer is," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Thursday.
Three players at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, Nick Kasa of Colorado of the University of Colorado, Le'veon Bell of Michigan State, 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 like, 'Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?' " Kasa told the CJ & Kreckman show on ESPN Radio in Denver. "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."
The questions appear to have been asked in the wake of the fake girlfriend hoax involving Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, ABC News reported. 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.
Schneiderman sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reminding him that it is illegal under the New York State Human Rights Law for an employer to refuse to hire, fire or discriminate against an employee because of sexual orientation.
The NFL is headquartered in New York City.
Schneiderman also noted 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."
"We will be seeking a meeting with the League staff supervising your investigation of the incidents reported by prospective players," Schneiderman wrote Goodell, asking the commissioner contact the attorney general's office by next Wednesday to schedule the meeting.
Schneiderman urged the NFL to demonstrate a strong commitment to creating a work environment free of discrimination by issuing a written, league-wide policy. He offered the support of his office’s Civil Rights Bureau to assist in development of a policy.
The NFL said it has been investigating the combine incidents and will discuss the issue during a league meeting in Phoenix next week.
"It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement last month. "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," ABC News reported.
"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" said Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
"The NFL agreed to meet with GLAAD and the You Can Play Project to speak about these issues, but that needs to be a priority, before the league continues to harm its LGBT fans, employees, and yes -- current players. We are asking that this happen immediately, and we thank Attorney General Schneiderman for encouraging that to happen," Graddick added.