An attorney for former Miami head coach Brian Flores said Wednesday that the team is trying to press the NFL to have his racial discrimination claims against the Dolphins heard out of court and “pushed into a secret arbitration proceeding to which the public would not have access.”
Flores’ lawyer, in a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell shared in an email with CNN, urged Goodell to reject the Dolphins’ request and have the case heard in court.
“Accountability requires transparency,” attorney Douglas H. Wigdor writes in the letter.
“NFL coaches (and candidates), players and the public at large deserve that transparency. Arbitration is not transparent,” Wigdor continues. “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.”
CNN has reached out to the NFL and Dolphins for comment.
Flores, in a statement through his attorneys, said, “The claims that we filed involve important issues of systemic race discrimination and the integrity of NFL football games.
“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.”
Flores also questioned whether Goodell would allow his discrimination case and future discrimination cases to play out in a “transparent and public legal process, or continue along the same unacceptable path.”
In February, Flores, who is Black, filed a federal lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins organizations alleging racial discrimination.
Flores claimed that Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross offered to pay Flores to purposely lose games in order to secure a higher pick in the NFL draft and encouraged Flores to purposely violate league tampering rules. Flores says when he refused, Ross then led a campaign to treat Flores with “disdain and held out as someone who was noncompliant and difficult to work with.” Ross and the Dolphins denied all the allegations.
The Dolphins fired Flores in January. He went 24-25 in three years with the Dolphins, including a 9-8 record this past season when Miami missed the playoffs.
Flores also accused the Giants and Broncos of carrying out sham interviews in order to comply with the “Rooney Rule,” which requires NFL teams to interview at least two minority external candidates for head coaching jobs.
In a response to Flores’ lawsuit, the NFL called his allegations meritless, saying in a statement, “diversity is core to everything we do.” The Dolphins, Giants and Broncos have also denied doing anything improper.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Eric Levenson and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.