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Lawsuits & Litigation

NFL Plans to Force Brian Flores Discrimination Lawsuit into Secret Arbitration

— April 22, 2022

The N.F.L. claims that former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores cannot sue the League because he is bound by the terms of his employment to settle any complaints in closed arbitration.

The N.F.L. has told a judge that former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores should not be allowed to sue the League—and that his lawsuit should either be dismissed or forced into secret arbitration.

According to The Miami Sun-Sentinel, the N.F.L. released a letter detailing its strategy on Thursday, in advance of an initial hearing with the Manhattan-based federal judge overseeing the case.

The letter, adds the Sun-Sentinel, was jointly prepared by attorneys for both Flores and other coaches participating in the lawsuit and lawyers for the N.F.L.

The purpose of the letter was to inform the court of each side’s position before the hearing, scheduled for May 2.

As has reported before, Flores filed his lawsuit earlier this year. In his complaint, Flores claims that the N.F.L. facilitates widespread racially discriminatory hiring practices.

These practices, Flores says, disproportionately affect minority coaches and general managers.

The Los Angeles Chargers, formerly the San Diego Chargers, playing the Washington Football Team in Virginia in 2021. Image via Flickr/user:All-Pro Reels. (All-Pro Reels Photography). (CCA-BY-2.0).

Two other N.F.L. coaches—Steve Wilks and Ray Horton—have since joined the lawsuit.

Flores claims that the N.F.L.’s continued use of the “Rooney Rule,” which requires that teams interview minority candidate for all head coaching positions, has back-fired.

According to Flores, he was offered interviews with several different teams—only to find out they had already selected certain candidates.

Flores says the teams had offered him false interviews for filled positions to comply with the Rooney Rule.

However, the N.F.L. and its attorneys insist that there is no widespread racial discrimination in the League.

“Defendants have not discriminated against Plaintiffs (or the Black coaches and general managers they purport to represent) on the basis of their race, nor have Defendants retaliated against Mr. Flores for filing this lawsuit,” League lawyers wrote.

While the N.F.L. said they were immune to Flores’s lawsuit for many different reasons, they indicated that Flores should be bound by the terms of his employment, which require the resolution of any dispute in closed arbitration.

The N.F.L. said that, even if the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, Flores’s claim lacks merit.

Flores, for instance, said he was terminated by the Miami Dolphins because he refused to intentionally toss games to rig the N.F.L. draft.

“Mr. Flores himself alleges that he was terminated by the Dolphins for reasons plainly unrelated to his race, including his alleged refusal to intentionally lose games or to violate NFL rules,” the lawyers wrote.

The N.F.L. also said that it is “engaged in ongoing efforts to improve diversity among coaches and staff, and would welcome the involvement of Plaintiffs and other Black coaches and executives in those efforts.”

Flores, the other coaches, and their legal team wrote in the same letter that they plan to push the lawsuit toward a jury trial and will oppose any effort to put the case into arbitration.


NFL aiming for dismissal of discrimination suit by Brian Flores, other Black coaches

NFL intends to try to force entire Brian Flores case into secret arbitration

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