Were NFL Teams Out Of Line in Asking a Player if He is Gay?

The annual NFL combine was held recently in Indianapolis, in which hundreds of talented college football players have an opportunity to display their physical traits and skill sets for professional scouts and coaches before the NFL draft in the spring. This year, one high-profile player was asked some odd questions by some of the NFL teams.

Manti Te’o, a talented linebacker from Notre Dame, recently found himself in a whirlwind of media after it was discovered that his online girlfriend did not exist. Te’o was duped by a young man from California posing as a young female, and Te’o was led to believe this “girlfriend” died from leukemia. Some teams and media pundits speculated that Te’o was complicit in the hoax in an attempt to garner sympathy and receive more votes for the Heisman Trophy.

While Te’o was interviewing individually for NFL teams at the combine, questions about the girlfriend hoax undoubtedly came up often. Some teams took it a step further, and asked Te’o if he was a homosexual. It is understandable to ask questions about players character and personality before a team decides to invest millions in a 20 year old kid, but is asking about sexuality taking it to far?

The question may or not be illegal depending on which team asked it. There are no federal laws outlawing sexual orientation discrimination that would apply in this case—some states have laws outlawing sexual orientation discrimination, but not all. In California it is illegal to ask, so teams from that state avoided it.

“Teams are expected to comply with the law in terms of any employment interview,” says NFL Spokesman Freg Aiello.

Please visit our website today for more information on sexual orientation discrimination.

Tip of the day: Record and take note of any possible discriminatory questions a prospective employers asks you during the interview process.

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles sexual orientation discrimination attorneys