America First Legal Blasts the NFL’s Illegal and Racist “Rooney Rule,” Files Federal Civil Rights Complaint

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) filed a federal civil rights complaint against the National Football League (NFL) for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and engaging in race and sex discrimination. America First Legal also sent a letter to the NFL Commissioner, demanding appropriate measures be taken to stop this cynical assault on equality.

In 2003, the member clubs of the NFL voted to adopt the Rooney Rule for the purpose of “increas[ing] the number of minorities hired in head coach, general manager, and executive positions.” The focus of the Rooney Rule was to address “the historically low number of minorities in head coaching positions.” The original iteration of the rule “required every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates before making a new hire.” 

The Rooney Rule has been amended several times since its adoption and now requires teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach and general manager vacancies, at least one external minority for a coordinator job, and at least one minority and/or female candidate for senior level positions, such as club president and senior executives.  

Effectively, in the twenty years that the Rooney Rule has been in existence, all it has done – according to minority interviewees for head coaching positions and the former head of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith – is result in member clubs engaging in sham interviews with minority candidates solely to check the Rooney Rule box. Given the limited timeframe to hire executives and coaches after the season, this results in fewer opportunities for similarly situated, well-qualified candidates who are not minorities.

The Rooney Rule interview policy is in clear violation of civil rights law which prohibits hiring practices that limit, segregate, or classify applicants for employment because of race, color, and/or sex. America First Legal is unrelenting in its fight to dismantle the DEI industrial complex that cuts at the heart of equality.  

Statement from America First Legal Senior Advisor, Ian Prior: 

“When millions of Americans tune in to the Super Bowl, they will be watching meritocracy in action; the best players, on the best teams, with the best coaches. Yet, every year during this time NFL teams must follow the “Rooney Rule” and interview prospective coaches and executives, not because of their skill and hard work, but rather because of the color of their skin. This process is not only insulting and condescending to prospective coaches who are merely interviewed to check a box, but it is also the exact kind of racial balancing that the Supreme Court of the United States has unequivocally denounced as illegal and anathema to equal protection under the law. If the National Football League truly wants to end discrimination in the employment process, then the NFL should stop discriminating in the employment process, follow the meritocratic system it displays on the field, and eliminate the Rooney Rule,“ said Ian Prior. 

Read the letter to the EEOC here and the NFL Commissioner here.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates on America First Legal’s fight to protect your constitutional rights!

Twitter, Facebook, GETTR, Parler, Instagram

To schedule an engagement with America First Legal, please email [email protected].

Photo creditAdobe Stock Images

Stay Informed

Get updates about the legal battles we are waging across the country. To Get Critical Updates By Text: Text Join to 50608.

    I would like to Subscribe!