Former Dolphins coach Brian Flores is challenging not just the NFL’s employment practices but also the broader practices by many employers to force certain employment disputes to private arbitration.
“With forced arbitration my case will be litigated behind closed doors, confidentially and without transparency, essentially done in secrecy,” Flores told the American Association for Justice on Monday, via a press release from the group. “With forced arbitration, there won’t be a jury of my peers who will hear my claims, which is one of the most important and fundamental rights we have in this country.”
It’s not just about the claims Flores has made. Forced arbitration affects many American employees, and it allows discriminatory practices to continue by not properly smoking them out in an open court proceeding.
“Forced arbitration is the crux of why all forms of discrimination are so prevalent in our country — systemic racism and discrimination,” Flores said. “So there’s literally a system in place that uses forced arbitration, which essentially allows for discrimination to continue. . . . Forced arbitration allows an employer to hide behind secret and confidential proceedings. The employer avoids scrutiny and publicity accountability. With this system in place, then how can we believe real justice and real change can occur?”
Flores spoke in support of legislation that would prevent the mandatory arbitration of race discrimination claims. Earlier this year, Congress passed a law prohibiting forced discrimination of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims.
“If legislation was passed to ban forced arbitration for sexual assault and sexual harassment, why wouldn’t we do the same for race discrimination claims?” Flores said. “[Forced arbitration] silences them and often times the employees throw their hands up because they know it’s a rigged system where they can’t truly get justice. I’ve seen it first hand these past few months. Coaches and executives who have pretty much thrown their hands up because they figured they are going to be silenced anyway. . . . I don’t want my kids to watch football and think that they just have to be a player. That they can’t be a head coach, that they can’t be an executive, that they can’t be an owner.”
Kudos to Flores for taking up this fight. Most employers who compel arbitration utilize independent arbitrators. The NFL uses a process over which the Commissioner or his designee presides. It’s a bad system, and the NFL benefits from the fact that not enough fans understand the inherent corruption of letting the Wile E. Coyote adjudicate the grievances of the Road Runner.
It’s grossly unfair. It’s a kangaroo court. More in the media need to be willing to say it, so more fans will realize how messed up the NFL’s approach to fairness and justice is.