NFL wants to move Flores case to arbitration

The lawsuit claims the NFL has repeatedly rejected potential Black candidates for positions as head coaches

The NFL wants Brian Flores’ race discrimination lawsuit moved to arbitration but Flores and his team want to settle the case in court. 

“It is the defendant’s position that all the matters raised by the plaintiffs …are covered by the arbitration agreement,” the league’s attorney, former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, told a federal judge during a hearing in New York on Monday, ABC News reports. 

This July 2021 photo shows Brian Flores, then head coach of the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Flores is suing the NFL and three of its teams, “saying racist hiring practices by the league have left it racially segregated and managed like a plantation.”

At the end of the regular season, of 32 NFL teams, only one was helmed by a Black coach after Flores was let go in January —Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, now in his 15th season.

The lawsuit claims the NFL has repeatedly rejected potential Black candidates for “positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks coaches, as well as general managers,” per The Associated Press. During his first season as head coach for the Miami Dolphins, Flores claims team owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per loss in 2019 in an attempt to secure a top draft pick.

Flores wasn’t under contract when some claims occurred, therefore he wants the case to remain in federal court. In March, his lawyer sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to turn down Miami’s request for an arbitration hearing. 

“Arbitration is not transparent,” attorney Douglas H. Wigdor wrote in his letter.  “Indeed, arbitration is by its very nature a secretive process that takes place behind closed doors and outside of the public eye.

The lack of transparency in arbitration only serves to continue the status quo—which in this case, is one that you have conceded must be fairly evaluated and potentially overhauled. That cannot happen in arbitration. In addition to being secret and confidential, it is a well-accepted fact that arbitration presents a barrier to justice for victims of discrimination and other misconduct.”

Wigdor said in a motion that “the failure to hire is not subject to arbitration.”

Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins looks on against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter in the game at Hard Rock Stadium on November 11, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Flores was fired as head coach of Miami earlier this year after three seasons with the franchise. He currently serves as senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach for the Steelers.

After his Miami exit, his lawsuit alleges he participated in “sham” interviews with NFL teams attempting to comply with the Rooney Rule, which requires franchises to interview at least one minority candidate when filling head coach and general manager positions.

The NFL, the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants are all accused by Flores in his lawsuit of fostering the league’s system of racial exclusivity, theGrio reported. 

The NFL has maintained that his lawsuit is “without merit.”

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