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Lawyers representing NFL coaches Brian Flores, Ray Horton and Steve Wilks in their class-action lawsuit against the NFL and its teams stated in a brief filed Wednesday that sending the case to the league’s arbitration process would lead to “unconscionably biased one-sided ‘kangaroo courts'” deciding the matter, per Larry Neumeister of the Associated Press.
The lawsuit, which Flores filed in February, alleges that the NFL and several teams engaged in racial discrimination in its hiring decisions.
As noted by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, the 25-page brief also states that the NFL’s arbitration process “bear[s] no resemblance to a neutral judicial forum and fail[s] to comport with basic principles of fairness.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell would oversee the case if it doesn’t go to jury, but the plaintiffs allege that he can’t be unbiased in the process.
“They included in their submission articles about Goodell’s salary and other personal details,” Neumeister wrote.
“They cited the hundreds of millions of dollars he earns from teams, his public statement that the lawsuit is without merit and the likelihood that he could be a witness in the case.”
In June, the NFL and six teams filed a motion in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in hopes of pushing the case to arbitration.
The motion states that the plaintiffs signed contracts with their teams that stated that any claims against the teams that employed them had to go through arbitration.
In addition, the motion states that “the NFL Constitution’s arbitration provisions to which Plaintiffs agreed expressly cover claims involving two or more member clubs and claims between any coach and any member club—precisely the case here.”
The NFL also stated in the motion that the matter was not for federal courts to rule on: “Courts are particularly hesitant to interfere in such matters, because the internal standards of professional sports leagues ‘are not necessarily familiar to courts and obviously require some expertise in their application.'”
Flores served as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for three years before being fired in January. He is a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wilks, who coached the Arizona Cardinals for one year in 2018 before the team parted ways with him, is the defensive passing game coordinator and secondary coach for the Carolina Panthers.
The retired Horton notably worked as a defensive coordinator from 2011 to 2016 for the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns (two stints) and Tennessee Titans.
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