It may be the NFL’s offseason, but there has still been plenty of action surrounding “the League” in the legal arena: lawsuits alleging everything from the NFL’s failure to warn players concerning the risks of concussions to defamation resulting from the Commissioner’s public statements about the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. The NFL will now have to defend itself in another forum – before the National Labor Relations Board.
The NFL Referees Association (“NFLRA”) has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB in Kansas, alleging the League engaged in “direct dealing” with the NFLRA’s referees, bypassing the NFLRA as the exclusive bargaining representative for the NFL’s 121 game officials when it sent letters directly to NFLRA members (which allegedly contained “inaccurate, false, and incomplete information regarding bargaining issues and proposals”). The NFLRA also alleges the NFL provided them with this information “to undermine bargaining unit support for” the NFLRA.
The NLRB charge follows stalled negotiations between the NFL and the NFLRA on a new collective bargaining unit. As we previously reported, the NFL announced on June 4th that it has started the process to interview, hire, and train potential replacement referees for the 2012 NFL season.
We will continue to follow the status of the unfair labor practice charge as well as the highly contested negotiations between the NFL and its referees, and the other litigation filed against the NFL.