Flores: Goodell should ensure that case avoids forced arbitration

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Brian Flores asks Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, to ensure that his class-action suit against the league and other teams for allegedly racist hiring practices doesn’t get settled behind closed doors.

Flores stated Monday that Goodell must ensure the case is decided by a jury composed of Flores’ peers, rather than through arbitration, if he truly wishes to effect the change the NFL’s top executive has promised in the wake the ex-Miami Dolphins head coach’s extraordinary legal maneuver.

Flores stated that she believes Commissioner Goodell has the power to do the right thing during a conference with legislators to support the FAIR Act which would end forced arbitration. “I don’t believe you can make that change in secret or confidential settings. … He has the influence to ensure that (a jury trial), happens.

Flores was hired last month as a senior defensive assistant by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He filed his lawsuit against Miami, the NFL, Dolphins and New York Giants. Flores was the Dolphins’ most successful player before he was fired in Jan.

Miami requested that the case be referred to an arbitrator in December.

Flores claims that the league discriminated against him, and other Black coaches, for racial reasons. They denied them positions as quarterbacks coaches, offensive and defensive coaches, and general managers. Flores claims that Miami offered him $100,000 per losing season in 2019, in order to get a top draft pick.

Flores spoke on a panel with Democratic Congressmen Hank Johnson in Georgia and Hakeem Jeffreyries in New York. He said that he didn’t know that the Dolphins could force Flores into arbitration when he signed his contract.

Flores stated that arbitration clauses are the last thing you should be thinking about. If it all goes wrong, or you’re wronged in any way, you will be forced to enter a situation where the odds are against you.” Flores said, “That’s not what your thinking.”

Flores doesn’t think knowing would have affected his decision.

Flores stated, “Even if you knew, where’s your bargaining power?” Flores said, “What, are you going to say no?” It’s unfair. It’s obvious.”

Congress will consider the FAIR Act this week. It would prohibit employers from hiding mandatory arbitration clauses in employee paperwork or consumer agreements. Flores believes that removing this option would be better for employees.

Flores said that although the Rooney Rule is well-intentioned, it has flaws. It requires teams to interview candidates from outside minorities for high-ranking positions in the front office and coaching staff.

He stated that “if there’s going to be any real change, regardless of whether it’s from head coaches, general managers or even ownership levels, there will have to be some oversight over the hiring practices and firing practices within the NFL.” This will need to be done from outside sources. If there is a solution, I believe that it is.

Flores will take a stand to create more opportunities for minorities within the NFL. However, he believes that forced arbitration is a hindrance to all other areas of work.

Flores stated, “With this system in effect, how can you believe that real justice and real progress can occur?” They know that it is a rigged system and they don’t have the right to get justice. … This doesn’t happen just in football. It happens across all industries.