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Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to keep the racial discrimination lawsuit against the league and select teams in the public eye and out of arbitration.
Flores wrote to Goodell in a letter obtained by The Athletic, which also included a request by the Dolphins to the league last month to move the lawsuit to private arbitration.
“[W]e request that you reject Miami’s request to arbitrate its disputes with Mr. Flores because arbitration—which is conducted behind closed doors and outside the public eye—is contrary to all notions of transparency, accountability and fundamental fairness,” Flores attorney Douglas Wigdor wrote. “If the National Football League is truly committed to racial justice and equality, it will not attempt to force Mr. Flores’ claims into arbitration.”
Days after the league’s said Flores’ claims were “without merit,” Goodell sent a memo to all teams on racism and diversity.
Despite Flores’ plea for the lawsuit and its proceedings to be kept in the public eye, The Athletic reports that provisions in head coaching contracts require disputes to be handled this way, as does a section of the NFL constitution. The league would likely have a strong case to ask the federal court to defer to arbitration because of the employment contract language.
Flores, now coaching for the Pittsburgh Steelers, included a statement relayed by his attorney:
“The claims that we filed involve important issues of systemic race discrimination and the integrity of NFL football games,” Flores’ statement said. “Unfortunately, the Dolphins and their attorneys, Quinn Emanuel and Paul Weiss, are trying to push the claims against the Dolphins into secret arbitration proceedings that lack transparency. 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 continued. “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?”
The Athletic reports that Flores has notified the court he intends to file an amended complaint, which is due April 8.
While it is not known what he will amend in the suit, an amended complaint could include a new plaintiff or added information regarding the Houston Texans for failing to hire Flores as a head coach.
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