Will Brian Flores’s Rooney Rule Lawsuit Enact Change In NFL Hiring Practices?

rooney-ruleLast Tuesday on February 8th, Angela Reddock-Wright had the chance to share her insights on the Brian Flores vs. NFL lawsuit in an appearance on Spectrum News LA. At its core, the conflict highlights an absence of Black representation among NFL coaches, ownership, and leadership despite the previously-established Rooney Rule, which Flores sees as an ingenuine formality. 

The Rooney Rule is an NFL policy that was instituted in 2003. At its core, the rule encourages “hiring best practices to foster and provide opportunity to diverse leadership throughout the NFL” according to the NFL Operations site. In 2003, there were only three Black coaches in the NFL. 19 years later, there’s only one: Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one Latino coach, Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team. There are no Black owners of NFL teams or general managers, while at least 70% of the League’s players are Black. 

This means that although the Rooney Rule has been put in place, it’s not necessarily being complied with. In other words, Black candidates for NFL coaching positions may receive an interview, but it appears to be more of a formality, as the decision is often made before the interview even begins, as is demonstrated in the case of Flores with respect to his consideration for the head coaching position for the New York Giants. 

Before his interview with the Miami Dolphins, Flores claims to have received a text from Bill Belichick, the famed head coach and now general manager of the New England Patriots, congratulating him on his new coaching role. However Flores quickly realized the text was meant for another candidate named Brian, meaning the role had already been filled, leading him to believe that his interview had already been decided. Flores is expected to use this story as a driver for his lawsuit against the NFL and other teams with stilted hiring practices.

Reddock-Wright explains how since the Rooney Rule is a policy and not a law, and that it is up to the NFL and the team owners to show good faith in exercising the policy: “I think that Flores’s comments and his lawsuit suggest that that rule, although ideal and romanticized in nature, is not really what’s happening on the ground. Even if individuals are being interviewed for head coaching positions or other positions, oftentimes, the decision has already been made and the interview is just something to check the box. Teams are complying with the Rooney Rule in spirit, but not in actuality.” 

In a recent episode of ESPN First Take, Stephen A. Smith discusses the absence of Black hirings for NFL coaching positions. He recalls how there have been seven or eight openings for NFL head coaches throughout the offseason. Five of those positions have been filled thus far, none of whom are African-American. 

The NFL has since denied Flores’s allegations of racist hiring practices and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed the League’s commitment to doing better. In response, Reddock-Wright stated: “Mr. Goodell, I think, was sincere in his intent, but he will have to use the power of his position to convince team owners that it’s time to diversify, be true to the Rooney Rule, and open the gates of who can access ownership and leadership opportunities within the NFL.” 

Watch Reddock-Wright’s full appearance on Spectrum News LA for her full range of insights on this case. For media inquiries, please reach out to monty@kwsmdigital.com.  

 

Experienced Employment Law Attorney, Mediator, Arbitrator, Investigator, Legal and Media Commentator 

Twice-named a U.S. News Best Lawyer in America for employment and labor law, Angela Reddock-Wright is an employment and labor law attorney, mediator, arbitrator, and certified workplace and Title IX investigator (AWI-CH) in Los Angeles, CA. Known as the “Workplace Guru,” Angela is an influencer and leading authority on employment, workplace/HR, Title IX, hazing, and bullying issues. Furthermore, she’s been named a “Top 50 Woman Attorney” in California by Super Lawyers, a “Top California Employment Lawyer” by the Daily Journal and one of Los Angeles’ “Most Influential Minority and Women Attorneys” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Angela is a regular legal and media commentator and analyst and has appeared on such media outlets as Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, Law and Crime with Brian Ross, Court TV, CNN, NewsNation, ABC News, CBS News, Fox 11 News, KTLA-5, the Black News Channel, Fox Soul – The Black Report, NPR, KPCC, Airtalk-89.3, KJLH Front Page with Dominique DiPrima, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, Forbes.com, Yahoo! Entertainment, People Magazine, Essence Magazine, the Los Angeles Sentinel, LA Focus, Daily Journal, Our Weekly and the Wave Newspapers.

Angela is a member of the panel of distinguished mediators and arbitrators with Judicate West, a California dispute resolution company. She also owns her own dispute resolution law firm, the Reddock Law Group of Los Angeles, specializing in the mediation, arbitration, and investigation of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other workplace claims, along with Title IX, sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct conduct cases, along with hazing and bullying cases in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, fraternities and sororities; fire, police and other public safety agencies and departments; and other private and public sector workplaces.

Reddock-Wright has also launched her own radio show, Legal Lens with Angela Reddock-Wright, airing on Tavis Smiley’s new KBLA Talk 1580 radio station on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. PT with replays on subsequent Sundays. Listeners may tune-in by downloading the APP @kbla1580 and call the PowerLines at 1-800-920-1580.

For more information regarding resources for employers, businesses, and employees during this time, connect with her on LinkedIn for new updates, or contact her here. You may also follow her on Instagram.

This communication is not legal advice. It is educational only. For legal advice, consult with an experienced employment law attorney in your state or city.

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