Monday, May 12, 2014

Leaked Johnny Football Scouting Report Raises Some EEO Concerns

Call me hypersensitive, but if I had a client that was using prehire reports like the allegedly legitimate scouting report on Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel, I'd be on the phone to them with some advice. Starting with, "Set aside some money for employment litigation expenses."

The overall tenor of this thing is troubling, and some of the language is outright problematic. I'm thinking specifically of the comment that Manziel has "outlaw bloodlines", which clearly implies that some of his reckless behavior is attributable to a genetic quality on his father's side. This is, as we say in the business, "a smoking gun" for genetic discrimination, which violates the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

As with any entertainment business, character issues are a crucial hiring factor in the NFL. But attributing character traits to some type of genetic anomaly (at least without an ironclad medical basis) is just idiotic. And it's especially idiotic to put your prejudices in writing, in a nonprivileged document that could readily be discovered in litigation.  I'm not sure that Mr. Manziel has a case personally, since he was taken earlier in the draft and New England did not have a chance to effectuate the bias contained in the report. But if this is the kind of information that is routinely placed in the scouting reports, NFL clubs are opening themselves up to potential litigation.

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