As the hiring and firings mount in Cleveland, so do the buyouts financed by owner Jimmy Haslam.
It’s hard not to wonder whether, at some point, Haslam will try to stiff one or more of his former employees out of the ongoing pay to which they’re otherwise entitled.
Typically, coaches, General Managers, and other executives are paid for the rest of their contracts, if they’re let go. Teams can block the ongoing payment only by firing those employee “for cause.”
The standard contractual language for these non-union employees grants the Commissioner the power to resolve any disputes that may arise.
Ultimately, there’s nothing to lose. At least not financially. While it could hurt Haslam’s perception in league circles (especially when he tries to make more hires), there’s no tangible penalty for taking a chance at refusing to pay an employee.
Most states have wage payment laws the entitle employees who are stiffed to treble damages or other punitive payments, along with attorneys’ fees. For the NFL, the owner who loses the arbitration determined by the Commissioner ends up paying only what he would have paid in the first place.
Still, there are other costs. At a time when the Browns already are viewed by many (not just those in the local media) as a dysfunctional mess, the Browns would only make things look worse by trying to reduce the natural financial consequences of firing so many people by trying not to pay them what their contracts say they should get.