NEW YORK — A judge said Thursday she will deliver a verdict in weeks, not months, on whether NFL commissioner Roger Goodell should rule on the merits of racial discrimination claims made by black coaches against the league and its teams.
US Judge Valerie Caproni said in a written ruling that attorneys for coaches Brian Flores, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton cannot collect additional evidence from the defendants to support their case. Lawyers are asking that the lawsuit be in federal court in Manhattan and not be sent to arbitration.
“Claimants should know if they have entered into any other contracts or agreements that would affect their agreement to arbitrate,” Caproni wrote. The Court can only assume that they are attempting to engage in a collection of inadmissible evidence. »
However, the judge asserted that the coaches’ lawyers may well be able to argue that the proposed arbitrator is impartial – against them – and that the motion to compel arbitration should not be granted. However, they do not need the in futurum investigative measure to do so.
Flores, who was fired in January as head coach of the Miami Dolphins and is now assistant coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, filed a lawsuit in February, claiming the league was ‘ridden with racism’ even if she condemns him publicly. The other coaches then joined the lawsuit, which seeks interest and class-action status.
The NFL and all six of its teams say the lawsuit is “without merit” and should go to arbitration, where Goodell would be the arbitrator, under terms set out in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement.
Attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis, representing Flores, said in a statement that they are “confident that they will defeat the NFL’s efforts to move this matter to private arbitration and behind closed doors.”
“It is apparent that the NFL is trying to hide behind this process and avoid public scrutiny of the racial discrimination and retaliation allegations we have filed. If they are confident in their defenses, they should let the process unfold in court for the general public to see,” they added.
Lawyers for the NFL and its teams did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.