A discrimination case brought by three Black coaches accusing the National Football League of racist hiring should be resolved in a closed arbitration proceeding rather than in open court, the league said in court papers late on Tuesday.
Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and two other coaches in February sued the league and its 32 teams, alleging that teams have conducted “sham interviews” with Black candidates to satisfy a policy requiring that minorities be considered, and that Black coaches are paid less than their white counterparts.
The NFL has denied the claims and said its teams were committed to ensuring fair employment practices. In its filing in Manhattan federal court, the league asked District Judge Valerie Caproni to order that the case be sent to arbitration in line with the coaches’ employment contracts and NFL bylaws.
“The arbitration provisions in Mr. Flores’s employment agreement … clearly cover his claims against the Dolphins,” lawyers for the NFL wrote.
David Gottlieb, a lawyer for Flores, said the case should not be sent to arbitration because the designated mediator, league commissioner Roger Goodell, was biased in favor of the teams, which employ him.
“We continue to be disappointed by the NFL’s insistence that this case be moved behind closed doors and outside the public view,” Gottlieb said.
Flores has said that the process needs to be “in the open” to spur change.
Loretta Lynch, a former U.S. attorney general now representing the NFL, has said that the league considers its arbitration process “neutral.”
Flores and the other coaches have one month to respond to the league’s motion. The NFL will then have until August 5 to make additional arguments before Caproni decides on whether to send the case to arbitration.
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