Tuesday, December 06, 2022

NFL seeks arbitration for Flores’ Racial Discrimination Pack

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – The NFL and six of its teams have applied for arbitration in the lawsuit alleging they were involved in racial discrimination. If the league’s request is successful, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be the arbitrator.

The league and its teams filed documents late Tuesday with a judge presiding over a lawsuit filed by Brian Flores after he was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January. The NFL said employment agreements with teams signed by Flores and other coaches contain provisions that require the arbitration of all disputes.

Flores now works as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two other Black coaches in the league – Steve Wilks and Ray Horton – have joined Flores’ lawsuit, in which he claims the league is involved in racist hiring practices despite his claims to the contrary.

The NFL insisted that the lawsuit was “without merit,” although Goodell said before the Super Bowl that “all the allegations, whether based on racism or discrimination or the integrity of our game, were all very upsetting to me. . ”

It is unlikely that a federal judge from Manhattan will rule on the arbitration issue until the earliest late summer.

David Gottlieb, a lawyer for the coaches, said on Wednesday that moving the case to the secrecy of arbitration was in fact “depriving our clients of their rights.”

“Arbitration privatizes the judicial branch,” Gottlieb said. “All we ask for is an open and fair process.”

He said attorneys for Flores and the other two coaches would argue that the lawsuit belongs in federal court because any agreements that require arbitration have been signed with the teams rather than the league.

In March, Flores’ lawyer Douglas Wigdor wrote a letter to Goodell saying “arbitration is not transparent” and asked him to stay the case before a judge.

In its papers, the NFL argued that the discrimination lawsuit’s claims were not properly before the Manhattan court because multiple arbitration agreements signed by the coaches required arbitration.

The league also defended its anti-discrimination record, saying “diversity, equality and inclusion are core NFL values.” It quoted its implementation nearly two decades ago of the “Rooney rule”, which now requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates for any head coaching opening and at least one candidate in person.

Flores said in his lawsuit in February that the league remains “full of racism” and continues to deny black coaching positions due to racial reasons, making it difficult for them to become general managers, head coaches, attacking and defensive coordinators and coaches of the back players.

His lawsuit sought class action status and unspecified damages. In their papers, the league – along with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans – insisted that coaches’ arbitration agreements would require them to make individual demands.

The filing came hours before a House committee released a document alleging that Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” to discredit former employees who claim sexual harassment is in the workplace. . The document said private investigators were hired to intimidate witnesses and an overseas lawsuit was used as a pretext to obtain phone records and emails.

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