NFL gives defense against Black coaches' discrimination suit

A judge was told by the NFL that there are many reasons why a lawsuit filed against it by three Black coaches alleging racist hiring practices should be dismissed.

NFL gives defense against Black coaches' discrimination suit

The league released a letter Thursday ahead of a hearing before a Manhattan federal court. It stated that it would either request that Brian Flores' and the two other coaches' claims be referred to arbitration or dismissed without trial, as they are not legal.

This letter was jointly prepared by the lawyers of the NFL and the coaches to inform the judge about each side's position in advance of the May 2, hearing.

Flores was fired in January as the Miami Dolphins' head coach. claimed in his lawsuit, that the NFL used racist hiring practices, especially for general managers and coaches, to make the league "rife" with racism, even though it publicly condemns them.

Two other coaches -- Ray Horton and Steve Wilks -- joined Flores earlier in the month.

After the Dolphins won 9-8 in their second consecutive winning season, Flores was fired. He had led them to a record of 24-25 over three seasons. Despite winning 10 games in 2020, the team did not make it to the playoffs under Flores' leadership.

Flores was employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant coach.

In a letter, the NFL's lawyers stated that Flores and his teams denied the allegations in the suit. They also claimed that Flores was subject to a "sham interview” with the Denver Broncos. Flores was accused of being late for work and was then cast as the "angry Black Man" by the Dolphins.

The lawyers stated that "Defendants haven't discriminated against Plaintiffs (or Black coaches and general mangers they purport to represent) on account of their race nor have Defendants retaliated at Mr. Flores because he filed this lawsuit."

They claimed "numerous defenses" to the lawsuit's assertions, including jurisdictional, venue and statute-of-limitations defenses, but said the coaches must arbitrate their claims according to the terms of employment agreements with the NFL and its teams. They also noted that Flores' claims have been subject to arbitration and that the Dolphins had already notified Flores' lawyers.

The letter stated that even if the lawsuit was filed, the claims "lack legal value under the relevant statutes".

The coach would need to show that they wouldn't have been discriminated against if they weren't Black.

"Mr. Flores claims that he was fired by the Dolphins because he refused to lose games intentionally or violate NFL rules.

The league's lawyers stated that they have not found any particular employment practice that has a detrimental impact on Black coaches and coaching candidates.

Flores' and other coaches' lawyers also stated in the same letter that they would oppose the NFL’s plans to force arbitration, or dismiss the case.

They claimed that the NFL rejected their proposal for mediation, which would have included a neutral third party such as retired federal judges or members of civil and human rights communities.

However, the NFL's lawyers responded that the league and its clubs are engaged in ongoing efforts to improve diversity within coaches and staff and that they would welcome the participation of Plaintiffs and other Black coaches or executives in these efforts.