The NFL on Tuesday filed a motion in federal court to compel Brian Flores to bring a class action lawsuit against the league and multiple teams, in which he and two other coaches allege racial discrimination in his hiring practices, to arbitration.
The filing was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and included redacted contracts for all of the coaches who are named plaintiffs in the lawsuit – Flores, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton. The filing also includes a copy of the NFL constitution and bylaws.
The NFL argued in its filing that the three coaches had agreed in their signed contracts to arbitrate any claims against the teams that employed them and that “the arbitration provisions of the NFL Constitution to which the plaintiffs agreed expressly cover claims involving two or more member clubs and claims between any manager and any member club – precisely the case here.”
The NFL also argued in its filing that those signed contracts also obligate any claims against the league to arbitration and that Supreme Court precedent requires each man to arbitrate his claims on an individual basis.
Flores, who filed the lawsuit in February, also alleged that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per loss in the 2019 season, his first with the team, to improve his standing. in the draft. In its petition filed Tuesday, the NFL said it was also not for the federal courts to adjudicate, writing, “Courts are particularly reluctant to meddle in such cases because the internal standards of the professional sports leagues” are not necessarily familiar. before the courts and obviously require a certain expertise in their application. To support this argument, the NFL cited Charles O Finley & Co. v. Kuhn (1978) and Crouch v. NASCAR, Inc. (1988) as precedents.
Douglas Wigdor, one of Flores’ lawyers, had argued before a judge in May that arbitration was not the right way to resolve the lawsuit. Flores’ attorneys also said in a statement released in April, when the NFL first expressed its intention to file a motion to compel arbitration, that doing so would eliminate much-needed transparency in the case.
Flores’ lawyers want the case to stay in court for a jury trial, where it would eventually move on to discovery and each side could see relevant documents held by the other.
Flores alleged he was discriminated against by the Dolphins for his firing in January and the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Houston Texans – teams with which he has been interviewed for managerial positions. head coach but who have not been hired. Flores alleged that he received “mock” interviews from the Broncos and Giants to satisfy the Rooney Rule requirement to interview minority coaches. The Texans were later added to the lawsuit after Flores alleged the team “retaliated” against him by not hiring him because he filed the lawsuit.
The Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans were added to the trial in April when Wilks and Horton joined the trial. Wilks alleges he was “not given a meaningful chance of succeeding” by the Cardinals, who fired him after a season in which Arizona finished 3-13. Horton was passed over for the Titans job in favor of Mike Mularkey in 2016.
Mularkey, who served as the team’s interim head coach for the final nine games of the 2015 season, said in a 2020 podcast that Titans owners told him he was going to get the job before he left. have completed the interview process, including interviewing two. minority candidates.
Flores is currently employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach. Wilks is currently employed by the Carolina Panthers as a defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach. Redacted copies of Flores’ contract with the Steelers and Wilks’ with the Panthers were also attached to the NFL filing, along with Flores’ contract with the New England Patriots, the team he was employed by before he was hired. by the Dolphins.
Horton is now retired.