The controversy surrounding allegations of a bounty system put in place by the Saints coaches continued this week as the NFL players union filed a lawsuit against the league in federal court. The union is suing on behalf of three players who say that their collective bargaining agreement was violated in the way that penalties for the bounty system were handled after the scandal broke.
Players and coaches on the team were suspended for participating in a system of payment for hard-hits and injuries to the opposing team during games. The scandal raised a variety of liability issues for the league and the teams, as well as the coaches and individual players who participated. This employment dispute is over the commissioner’s handling of disciplinary action against those that participated in the bounty system. The lawsuit claims that the commissioner was severely biased in ruling on the appeals of the suspensions that he had personally imposed. One player has also filed a defamation suit against the commissioner.
The main complaint in this lawsuit is that the commissioner violated the collective bargaining agreement that the league had made with the players union during the appeals process. Unfortunately for the union, two arbitrators have already determined that the league did not violate the agreement. Employment law authorities say that one of the central questions of the case will be how much authority the commissioner has over the NFLPA.
In many cases in which an employer and a union are at odds, the complexities of the agreement with the union often end up as the guiding rules for resolving the dispute.
Source: New York Times, “Union Says that Goodell Showed Bias on Bounties,” Tim Rohan, July 5, 2012.