Court Battles

Former Dolphins coach urges NFL to reject arbitration request

Associated Press/Doug Murray

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores urged the NFL to reject his former employer’s arbitration request regarding his racial discrimination lawsuit against the league and other teams, The Associated Press reported

In a letter sent to league commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday, Flores’s attorney Douglas Wigdor urged Goodell to decline the Dolphins’ arbitration request and let the case play out in open court. 

The Dolphins, who fired Flores in January after he coached the team during consecutive winning seasons, requested the arbitration hearing last month, according to the AP.

“Arbitration is not transparent,” Wigdor wrote in his letter to Goodell. “Indeed, arbitration is by its very nature a secretive process that takes place behind closed doors and outside of the public eye. The lack of transparency in arbitration only serves to continue the status quo—which in this case, is one that you have conceded must be fairly evaluated and potentially overhauled. That cannot happen in arbitration. In addition to being secret and confidential, it is a well-accepted fact that arbitration presents a barrier to justice for victims of discrimination and other misconduct.”

Wigdor also said he’s hopeful the Dolphins will reconsider and withdraw their arbitration request so his client’s lawsuit can be heard in front of a jury, the AP reported.

“If the NFL is truly committed to ‘ending racism,’ as it has repeatedly claimed, the league will reject Miami’s request for arbitration. Race discrimination cannot be eradicated behind closed doors and the integrity of the game depends on transparency,” Wigdor wrote in his letter.

During his “State of the League” address ahead of Super Bowl LVI last month, Goodell said the league has fallen short on giving minorities head coaching opportunities by “a long shot,” adding that it should look at changes in hiring processes.

Flores, who was recently hired as a senior defensive assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers, filed a lawsuit against the NFL and three teams — the Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos — last month alleging racial discrimination in its hiring practices. 

In his 58-page lawsuit, Flores also alleges that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross attempted to pay him more to purposely lose games during the 2019 season.

The NFL has launched an investigation into Flores’s claims about Ross, adding that if they find plausible evidence that Ross did offer Flores money to lose games, Ross could lose ownership of the Dolphins through a vote by fellow owners. 

In a statement, Flores said he hoped the NFL and Dolphins would support his effort to send his lawsuit to trial, the AP noted. 

“There are currently ongoing legislative efforts to end forced arbitration for claims of race discrimination, which I fully support. I would hope that the NFL and Dolphins would also support those efforts. Commissioner Goodell now has a choice to make,” Flores said. “Will he allow this case and future race discrimination claims to play out in a transparent and public legal process, or continue along the same unacceptable path?”

Tags Brian Flores Brian Flores lawsuit Miami Dolphins NFL Roger Goodell

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