Brian Flores Calls NFL Agreements “Unconscionable” & Roger Goodell Biased in Latest Court Filings Fighting Arbitration

Lawyers for Brian Flores filed papers in Manhattan federal court Wednesday, opposing the NFL’s attempt to move the former Miami Dolphins coach’s lawsuit against the NFL into arbitration. Flores, who is suing the league in a proposed class action suit, called the arbitration agreements he signed with the NFL “unconscionable” and Roger Goodell “obviously biased.” He also says that his claims against the Broncos, Giants, Texans and Dolphins are not covered by, and therefore outside of the scope of the arbitration agreement.

Flores and several other Black NFL coaches, including Panthers’ defensive passing game coordinator Steve Wilks and former defensive coordinator Ray Horton, are alleging racial bias by the league and singled out commissioner Roger Goodell in their latest arguments.

The lawyers representing Flores told the judge that the NFL is running an “unconscionably biased one-sided ‘kangaroo courts'” that could never fairly decide Flores’ dispute. They specifically said there was no way Goodell could be fair in overseeing and ruling on the dispute, which alleges that the league he governs engaged in systemic discrimination.

Goodell earns hundreds of millions of dollars from teams and has publicly stated that Flores’ suit is without merit, according to his lawyers. They also stated that Goodell’s salary, loyalty to team owners and the fact that he could be a witness in the case, all disqualify him from overseeing an arbitration. Flores wants his case to remain in court and be heard by a jury.

Flores was fired in January after serving as the Dolphins’ head coach. Flores filed a lawsuit soon after, alleging that he was fired due to discriminatory practices targeting not only him but other non-white coaches. He is now an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers as his case makes its way through the court system.  

Back in June, lawyers for the NFL argued that the case should be kicked out of court because the coaches agreed in their contracts to bring their disputes with teams to arbitration.

Flores’ attorneys warned in their filings that allowing the case to go to arbitration, would “embolden employers to create manifestly unfair arbitrations with assurance that they will be approved by the courts.”

“If the Court compels arbitration, scores of employers following this case, and those who learn of it, will undoubtedly change their arbitration clauses to permit the appointment of an obviously biased decision-maker,” the lawyers said.

Several weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni denied a request by Flores’ lawyers to gather evidence from the NFL through further discovery in order to argue that the case should not be forced into arbitration.

A ruling is expected soon.

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