Lawyers for the three black coaches who have alleged racial bias by the league took direct aim at commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday in their latest arguments against arbitration in the dispute, which they say must go before a jury.
In the documents filed in a federal court in Manhattan, the lawyers indicated that the arbitration will allow “excessive bias of one of the parties for a farce trial” that will decide the outcome of the lawsuit filed in February by Brian Flores, who was fired in January by the Miami Dolphins. He is currently an assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Two other coaches — Steve Wilks and Ray Horton — joined the case as plaintiffs.
His attorneys argued that Goodell, who would lead the arbitration if the case is not decided by a jury, could not be fair in pursuing and deciding the dispute over whether the league engages in racial profiling.
Included in the documents were articles about Goodell’s salary and other personal details. They cited the hundreds of millions of dollars he receives from the teams, his public comments about the lack of merit in the lawsuit and the possibility of him being a witness in the case.
In June, attorneys for the NFL and six teams asserted that arbitration was necessary because the coaches agreed to multiple arbitration awards in their contracts “clearly encompassing their allegations.” They added that the coaches had an obligation to go to arbitration individually and not as a group.
Attorneys for the league and teams did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Allowing Goodell to preside over the case “would deviate from established authorities and societal norms” and create a new standard for arbitration that would be approved “no matter how biased and unfair the process is,” the lawyers said in their most recent brief. .
They added that he would “encourage other employers to create unfair arbitrations knowing they will be approved by the court.”
“If the Court approves arbitration, employers who follow the case and those who learn from it will undoubtedly change the arbitration clauses to allow the appointment of a biased body to make decisions,” the lawyers said.
Seven weeks ago US District Judge Valerie Caproni denied the coaches’ lawyers’ request to gather more evidence before making a decision on whether the case should go to arbitration.
Because of this change it is more likely that you will make a decision in weeks rather than months.