Fired Dolphins head coach Brian Flores wants lawsuit against NFL heard in court

'Arbitration is not transparent,' attorney for Flores says
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores during game vs. New England Patriots, Jan. 9, 2022
Posted at 4:12 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 16:12:37-05

MIAMI — Brian Flores wants the NFL to reject a request by the Miami Dolphins for an arbitration hearing regarding his class-action lawsuit against the team and league.

Flores is alleging racist hiring practices and seeking unspecified damages.

His lawyer sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday, urging him to turn down Miami's request and have the case settled in court.

"Arbitration is not transparent," attorney Douglas H. Wigdor wrote in his letter. "Indeed, arbitration is by its very nature a secretive process that takes place behind closed doors and outside of the public eye. The lack of transparency in arbitration only serves to continue the status quo — which in this case, is one that you have conceded must be fairly evaluated and potentially overhauled. That cannot happen in arbitration. In addition to being secret and confidential, it is a well-accepted fact that arbitration presents a barrier to justice for victims of discrimination and other misconduct."

According to the lawsuit, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told Flores he would pay him $100,000 for every loss during the coach's first season because he wanted the team to "tank" so it could get the draft's top pick. Ross has denied the claim.

Brian Flores introduced as Miami Dolphins head coach in 2019 with owner Stephen Ross and general manager Chris Grier
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, new Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier pose for a portrait before a news conference Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in Davie, Fla.

Flores, who was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers last month as a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach, filed his lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, New York Giants and Denver Broncos after he was fired by Miami.

"The claims that we filed involve important issues of systemic race discrimination and the integrity of NFL football games," Flores said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the Dolphins and their attorneys, Quinn Emanuel and Paul Weiss, are trying to push the claims against the Dolphins into secret arbitration proceedings that lack transparency. There are currently ongoing legislative efforts to end forced arbitration for claims of race discrimination, which I fully support. I would hope that the NFL and Dolphins would also support those efforts. Commissioner Goodell now has a choice to make. Will he allow this case and future race discrimination claims to play out in a transparent and public legal process, or continue along the same unacceptable path?"

Flores, who previously said he had no intention of dropping the lawsuit even if he got another job, led the Dolphins to consecutive winning seasons before he was fired in January.

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel was hired to replace Flores.