MLB to strengthen policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig and Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) Executive Director Michael Weiner announced new efforts to protect current and future MLB players from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.

Following discussions with the Attorney General's office, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to undertake new actions to reinforce its workplace discrimination policies, including the creation and dissemination of a Workplace Code of Conduct to be distributed to every Major and Minor League player and posted in each locker room conveying MLB's non-discrimination policies. The League also agreed to implement new training opportunities for team officials and create a centralized complaint system for reporting incidents involving harassment and discrimination.

In November 2011, MLB and the MLBPA added sexual discrimination language into their collective bargaining agreement. Earlier this year, the Attorney General announced an agreement with the National Football League on new efforts to promote inclusion and protect players from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In a joint event before the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field, Attorney General Schneiderman, Commissioner Selig and MLBPA Director of Player Services Tony Clark unveiled a copy of the Workplace Code of Conduct at the T-Mobile All-Star Fan Fest celebration at New York's Javits Center. The Code will also be distributed individually to professional baseball players at every level of the game.


"No one should face harassment or discrimination, whether their workplace is an office park or a baseball diamond," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "By making a clear stand against discrimination in the workplace, our National Pastime is showing national leadership in the fight to promote equal justice for all. I am committed to using every tool at my disposal to ensure equal protection under the law for all employees no matter where they work, and I applaud Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association for working cooperatively with our office to promote a culture of inclusion and equality."


"I expect all those who represent Major League Baseball, as a social institution that has important social responsibilities, to act with the kind of respect and sensitivity that our game's diverse players, employees and fans deserve," Commissioner Selig said. "We welcome all individuals regardless of sexual orientation into our ballparks, along with those of different races, religions, genders and national origins. Both on the field and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation."


Executive Director Michael Weiner said, "The Major League Baseball Players Association supports and promotes a discrimination-free workplace, and firmly believes that every individual is entitled to pursue his or her career in an environment that is free of any type of harassing behavior. Additionally, the MLBPA embraces diversity and supports a workplace environment that welcomes all regardless of race, religion and sexual orientation."


As a result of MLB's and the MLBPA's cooperation with the Attorney General's office, the League has committed to additional steps to ensure that "America's pastime" is open to all players, regardless of sexual orientation. Among these steps, MLB has agreed to develop and disseminate materials on sexual orientation non-discrimination to all Club Scouting and Farm Directors involved in the acquisition of amateur talent. This will help to create a culture of acceptance early in the process. In addition, MLB's Office of the Commissioner will conduct training sessions for Club and League officials and staff at the bi-annual industry meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for November 2013 in Orlando, Florida and will include training on sexual orientation non-discrimination principles.


Furthermore, the Office of the Commissioner will centralize the process for filing complaints involving discrimination and harassment for both players and Club personnel by designating a lead point of contact at the Commissioner's Office to whom any complaints of sexual orientation harassment or discrimination can be made. In accordance with the Workplace Code of Conduct, MLB has also agreed to take steps to protect from retaliation any person who makes or assists in making such a complaint, or who assists in the investigation of a complaint.


This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Justin Deabler and James Katz, under the supervision of Civil Rights Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke, Executive Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.


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