By: Barbara Hart, Principal in G&E’s Civil Rights Practice
Since former Miami Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores filed a lawsuit against the NFL in February 2022 for racial discrimination, more minority NFL coaches have come forward with similar claims. Collectively, plaintiffs allege racial bias in the NFL’s hiring process.
Flores’ initial suit targeted the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos. Flores’ amended class action complaint adds the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, and also includes discrimination claims from coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton.
Plaintiffs seek increased transparency in the NFL hiring process, incentives for hiring Black coaches and increased visibility for Black assistant coaches. Despite denying plaintiffs’ claims, since the lawsuit was filed, the NFL has created a diversity advisory committee and instituted a new requirement for every team to hire a minority offensive assistant coach.
Now, the NFL is seeking to send the plaintiffs’ claims to arbitration (to resolve claims behind closed doors, and not in a public courtroom setting), contending that this is in accordance with the terms of relevant employment agreements. The judge has set a drawn-out schedule for the case to decide whether arbitration is required.
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