Flores challenges Goodell to have discrimination lawsuit heard in open court

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores watches from the sideline during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

March 14 (Reuters) - Former-Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores challenged National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday to have his racial discrimination lawsuit heard in open court and not closed arbitration.

Speaking on a conference call that included Democratic Congressmen Hank Johnson of Georgia and Hakeem Jeffries of New York who are putting forward the Fair Act which would curtail closed arbitration, Flores said he was not confident justice would be served if his case is done behind closed doors as the Dolphins have requested.

"I think if we are really going to get some change that needs to happen out in the open," said Flores. "Things being done in secrecy is something that doesn't sit well with me.

"Confidentiality and secrecy that's when it just feels you really can't get justice.

"Specific to my situation, commissioner Goodell has publicly said he is committed to diversity, inclusion and making real change, why not do that out in the open.

"Why do it behind closed doors?"

Flores was fired by the Dolphins in January and later filed the lawsuit alleging discrimination against Black candidates for top level coaching and management jobs. read more

Flores, who is Black, also accused Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of offering him $100,000 for each loss in 2019 as incentive to help the team land a higher draft pick and said his refusal to throw games ultimately cost him his job.

"The NFL, they've talked about transparency, they've talked about making change," said Flores. "Without public accountability, without scrutiny of being out in the open I don't think you're going to get real change.

"I would like to use this platform to create change not just in football but across all industries the Fair Act certainly would be a step in the right direction."

Miami's decision to fire Flores was one of the more surprising head coach decisions following the 2021 NFL season, given the Dolphins won eight of their final nine games after a 1-7 start.

In addition to the NFL and the Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and New York Giants were named in the lawsuit, which contended Flores' interviews for their vacant head coach positions were a sham aimed at satisfying a league rule that minority candidates must be considered for top coaching and staff jobs.

The NFL, Dolphins, Broncos and Giants have all denied Flores' accusations.

Flores has since been named senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His lawyers said in the letter that arbitration presents a barrier to justice for victims of discrimination and other misconduct.

"The practice of forced arbitration is unfair, unconscionable and unAmerican and we need to make sure through the Congress and the Fair Act that the practice of forced arbitration becomes unlawful," said Jeffries.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge

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