The NFL is planning to file a motion to have Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit either dismissed or moved from federal court to being heard by an arbitrator, according to The Athletic.
Flores, currently a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, filed a federal class action lawsuit against the NFL in February, specifically naming three of its teams: the Miami Dolphins, who had fired Flores in January, and the Denver Broncos and New York Giants, who Flores alleges conducted sham interviews with him under the league’s Rooney Rule. Flores has since added the Houston Texans to the list of named defendants and two other Black coaches, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton, have since signed on as plaintiffs.
The NFL has retained former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch as one of the lead attorneys for its defense; Lynch was the first Black woman to serve as attorney general.
From The Athletic
Flores’ lawyers said in a statement they would fight this request in court.
“We have said from the start that if the NFL wants to create change, the first step is to allow for transparency,” Flores’ lawyers said.
“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.”
If the case is allowed to proceed in court, it can be heard by a jury that would hear evidence and decided whether the NFL should have to pay damages to Flores and the other plaintiffs. The proceedings would also likely be subject to public scrutiny including media coverage.
Arbitration–a proceeding in which a private officiant hears evidence and determines culpability and any potential damages–would eliminate the unpredictability of a jury that could be sympathetic to claims of workplace discrimination. It would also happen in a private setting where reporters and the general public could easily be barred.