In a court filing Thursday, the NFL expressed an intention to file a motion to compel former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league and several of its teams alleging racial discrimination into arbitration.
Flores’ attorneys pushed back on NFL’s intended move, saying it eliminates much-needed transparency in the case.
“We have said from the start that if the NFL wants to create change, the first step is to allow for transparency,” said Douglas H. Wigdor of Wigdor LLP and John Elefterakis of EEP Law in a statement. “The NFL’s attempt to force these claims into arbitration demonstrates an unmistakable desire to avoid any public accountability and ensure that these claims are litigated behind closed doors in a forum stacked against our clients.
“We will fight this request in court, but Mr. Goodell should have done the right thing, disclaimed arbitration altogether and allowed this case to be tried before a jury representing a cross-section of the community, just like those who watch football.”
Standard NFL contracts often call for disputes to be settled in private arbitration instead of the judicial system, and the Dolphins, one of the teams named as a defendant in the case, previously asked the NFL to request the case move into arbitration.
Flores’ attorneys want the case to remain in the courts for a jury trial, where it would eventually move to discovery and each side can view relevant documents held by the other.
Earlier this month, two additional coaches, former Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks and former defensive coordinator Ray Horton, joined Flores’ lawsuit by amending the original complaint to include their own allegations of discrimination in hiring and firing practices of the Cardinals and Tennessee Titans.