Union has multiple legal concerns regarding new conduct policy


The NFL Players Association intended to scrutinize immediately the new personal conduct policy for terms that permit potential legal challenges, either through arbitration or a claim with the National Labor Relations Board.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA has identified multiple specific areas of concern and communicated those concerns to the Executive Committee and board of player representatives. The three biggest issues are summarized below.

First, the union disputes the league’s belief that Fifth Amendment rights have no relevance to the new policy. “We disagree and will vigorously protect ALL players’ 5th Amendment rights; we will ensure that an NFLPA attorney and criminal attorney protect a player at every step of any NFL investigation,” NFLPA management informed the Executive Committee and player representatives in a memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained. “This is crucial for players’ protection because any information gathered in an employer’s investigation is not privileged, and law enforcement could obtain and make prosecutorial decisions based on such information.” The NFLPA also will “aggressively address” the possibility that a player who invokes his Fifth Amendment right will be disciplined for failing to cooperate with the league’s investigation.

Second, the NFLPA disagrees with the plan to put players on paid leave when charged with a crime of violence. “[W]e strongly object to such unilateral action by the Commissioner/Owners, in no small part because many players have contracts that include significant roster bonuses, etc.,” the NFLPA said. “Moreover, the removal of a player
from the field is a form of discipline regardless of whether he is paid his paragraph 5 salary. We do not believe that unilaterally placing players on the Commissioner Exempt list with pay before issuance of discipline in form of fine or suspension is permitted by the CBA or NFL Constitution.”

Third, the NFLPA contends that the new approach to discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy, with the Commissioner delegating the initial decision to a to-be-hired “Special Counsel for Investigations and Conduct,” violates the plain language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“This new disciplinary structure violates the CBA,” the NFLPA explained to the players. “Article 46 of the CBA, which was obviously collectively bargained, contains the specific agreement that the Commissioner issues the initial
discipline, and the parties agreed that he can delegate appeal decision rights; the CBA language allowing for delegation is specific and its absence for the Commissioner to delegate to another NFL paid position is clear.”

The NFLPA may challenge these and other provisions by pursuing a “system arbitration” under the labor deal or filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

13 responses to “Union has multiple legal concerns regarding new conduct policy

  1. I don’t like the idea of the NFL doing its own investigation and jeopardizing a legal case. Who do they think they are to be enforcing the law. Then again, considering how inept ALL of their investigations are, including investigating their own Commissioner, or how difficult they claim it was to obtain a video from a CASINO with 18,000 cameras, maybe players have nothing to fear.

  2. I was under the impression that the 5th Amendment was for criminal law protection against the government, not labor law protecting employees against their employers. I’m not positive, as I’m not a lawyer. I would think with all the lawyers the NFL has that it would’ve been covered in the CBA and amendments they could add.

  3. Why are we on the players side when we have witnessed the last two big events that clearly aren’t excepted in society. Why shouldn’t the head of the corp pan out the penalty. I blame the players association that seems to not care how players act on or off the field. if players come into a game that is the entertainment world
    they should be expected to act inside these rules not as they please. When they don’t they should answer the price. As we have seen in Rice and Peterson they clearly by photo and admission were bad characters yet they want to cry foul now.

  4. Points one and three are fairly obvious and the union is completely right about them.

    The union should just make a flat policy of non-cooperation if point one stands.

    Point obviously contradicts the CBA.

    Point 2 – the union is might be right on this but it will depend on the judge.

  5. I understand the first two concerns, but the third is laughable. The NFLPA has a constant drumbeat against Goodell, but when he seeks to delegate authority in the disciplinary process they object? I guess they’re concerned that people will start to realize that Goodell isn’t the problem after all.

  6. The real challenge will be after the Panthers last game and Hardy is no longer being paid. He will then be a free agent and the ‘exempt list’ will no longer apply (He’ll be exempt from what?). What then NFL? Will you stand in his way from signing with a team?

  7. If you can prove that the CBA is being violated, Sue them. Mr. Smith, you know that you are an attorney, right?

    Please file a lawsuit immediately.

  8. If you can prove that the CBA is being violated, Sue them. Mr. Smith, you know that you are an attorney, right?

    Please file a lawsuit immediately!

  9. How does the 5th ammendment apply here? The investigation in question initiates after the legal case has gone through the court system. As for the delegation argument, it depends on the wording. The NFLPA has a history of misinterpreting the language but even if they are correct Goodell can simply use the decision of the special counsel as a recommendation and then always follow it as a matter of course. It still would be coming from Goodell but he would not be the “bad guy” initially.
    . This Union has never taken the initiative to hold their players accountable and I don’t remember a single time when it said the player’s actions warranted any discipline at all.

  10. The only way to get the owners attention is to strike, but do the players have the resolve to stand up to this “bully”?

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