Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores Accuses NFL of Racial Discrimination
As the Super Bowl excitement fades, the NFL faces much bigger questions than which commercial was the best. Brian Flores, former coach of the Miami Dolphins, has filed a putative class action lawsuit against the league alleging racial discrimination. Since being fired as head coach for the Dolphins in January, Flores has been rejected from other head coaching jobs as well. In his lawsuit, Flores states that this is a result of widespread, systemic racism in the NFL. He claims that he and other Black coaches have been subjected to years of discriminatory hiring practices.
As explained by a recent New York Times article, “The N.F.L. has acknowledged repeatedly that there are not enough coaches and team executives of color even as about 70 percent of players are Black.” In an attempt to address this disparity, the league adopted the Rooney Rule twenty years ago. This rule requires all NFL teams to interview a “diverse list of candidates for coaching and general manager positions.” However, the number of non-white head coaches in the league remains extremely low. Additionally, many coaches of color feel that they are interviewed for coaching positions solely to fulfill the requirements of the Rooney Rule. In his lawsuit, Flores accuses the league of just that.
NFL Teams Named in the Lawsuit
Flores named several teams in the lawsuit, including the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants. Before he was hired by the Dolphins, Flores participated in what he described as a “sham” interview with the Broncos, during which the team manager, team president, and others showed up over an hour late. As stated in the lawsuit, “It was clear from the substance of the interview that Mr. Flores was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule, and that the Broncos never had any intention to consider him as a legitimate candidate for the job.” The Broncos proceeded to hire a white man, Vic Fangio, as their new head coach. The team has stated that the allegations brought forth in the lawsuit are “blatantly false.”
Flores then brings forth allegations of racial discrimination against the Miami Dolphins and also accuses owner Stephen Ross of offering him money to purposely lose games in order to improve the team’s position in the draft. The Dolphins have responded by stating that they “vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination.” They added that “the implication that we acted in a manner inconsistent with the integrity of the game is incorrect.”
After Flores was fired from the Dolphins, he was scheduled to interview with the New York Giants for the head coach position. Before Flores had even completed his interview, New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick sent him a text message congratulating him on the position. Flores responded by asking Belichick if the text was intended for Brian Daboll, who had already completed his interview with the Giants. Belichick texted back, “I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.” In the lawsuit, Flores states he was “humiliated in the process as the New York Giants subjected him to a sham interview in an attempt to appear to provide a Black candidate with a legitimate chance at obtaining the job.” A Giants spokesperson denied these allegations.
Reactions to Lawsuit
The NFL issued a statement in response to the lawsuit, saying it is “deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices” and “will defend against these claims, which are without merit.” Flores and his legal team are now faced with the difficult task of proving that race was a factor when he was turned down for coaching jobs. Many believe that this will prove to be impossible. However, Flores remains steadfast in his goal to address systemic racism in the NFL. He has said, “I may be risking coaching the game that I love and that has done so much for my family and me. My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the N.F.L., others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”
Seek Legal Assistance Today
If you are experiencing racial discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance from the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City and Livingston, NJ. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.