A federal judge has dismissed the option of arbitration when it comes to NFL Coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league and three teams from a year ago. He stated that the league was “rife with racism” in regard to hiring and promoting Black coaches. Now, he can press discrimination claims.
The written decision came from Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan. It allows Flores to bring his claims to trial. It also mandated two other coaches who joined the lawsuit to submit to arbitration. In response to Flores’ claim, the league attempted to move the everything to arbitration, referencing the contracts that coaches had signed.
In the decision, Caproni stated that the extent of the the racial discrimination that coaches experienced in a league with a “long history of systematic discrimination toward Black players, coaches, and managers — [is] incredibly troubling.”
She also stated how it was “difficult to understand” how there was only one Black head coach when Flores filed his lawsuit in a league of 32 teams—and 70% of the rosters consisted of Black players. Flores can now let a jury decide the merits of his discrimination claims against the league, the Denver Broncos, the New York Giants and the Houston Texans.
However, he must pursue his claims against the Miami Dolphins through arbitration. In an email to NBC News, attorney Douglas Wigdor remarked:
“We are pleased that Coach Flores’ class claims of systematic discrimination against the NFL and several teams will proceed in court and ultimately before a jury of his peers. We are disappointed the court compelled arbitration of any claims before [Commissioner Roger Goodell] as he is obviously biased and unqualified to rule on these matters. We expect him to delegate those matters to a truly neutral arbitrator as a matter of fundamental fairness.”
Caproni also mentioned in her opinion that Flores’ case had shined “an unflattering spotlight on the employment practices of National Football League” teams.