Judge says former coach Brian Flores can press discrimination claims in court against NFL
After nearly a year of waiting after initially filing his lawsuit, a judge has given former NFL coach Brian Flores the green light to pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration.
Former Dolphins coach Flores sued the league and three teams a year ago, saying the league was “rife with racism”, particularly in its hiring and promotion of Black coaches.
In filing his suit, Flores said the NFL league is run ‘like a plantation’. Flores brought the lawsuit after he was fired by Miami after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years.
A ruling by judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to arbitration, citing contracts that coaches had signed.
According to Flores’ lawyer, he did not yet have a comment on the ruling. Judge Caproni also noted that Flores was announced earlier this month as the new defense coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.
In her opinion, Caproni said the case had shined “an unflattering spotlight on the employment practices of National Football League teams. Although the clear majority of professional football players are Black, only a tiny percentage of coaches are Black,” she wrote.
Claims brought by Steve Wilks and Ray Horton, two other coaches who joined the lawsuit, must go through arbitration, per the judges’ ruling. In deciding what claims in the lawsuit must go to arbitration rather than being litigated in court, the judge cited specifics about individual contracts and whether they were properly signed.
The lawsuit brought by Wilk and Horton says Wilks was discriminated against by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 when he was hired as a “bridge coach” but was given no meaningful chance to succeed, while Horton was subjected to discriminatory treatment when he was given a sham interview for the Tennessee Titans head coach position in January 2016.