Quarterback Colin Kaepernick caused a firestorm of controversy when he chose to kneel instead of stand for the national anthem before football games. This was done to protest police brutality during a rash of killings of unarmed black men by police.
The former 49ers starter finished his contract with the team in 2016 and has not been hired by another team. He and his lawyer believe this lack of work is because of his political views, which he feels are protected by his First Amendment rights.
Now an arbitration hearing has determined that there is enough credible evidence during the first stages of discovery for the court to dismiss the NFL’s request to toss out the case.Did the NFL engage in collusion?
This case now sets the stage during the football season for football executives and owners to be questioned. As with other jobs, the choices to employ football players is subjective, based on tangible and intangible abilities. In the past, however, professional football players have had a hard time proving collusion. Many believe that this time will be different.
The Trump factor
The president has been very vocal about what he perceives as disrespectful behavior. He has called for Kaepernick and other protesting players to be fired. This and the fact that hard-line owners are often big contributors to Trump bring additional wrinkles. Not only are they friendly with the president, but they do not want him to criticize the league or institute legislature that could hurt the league (such as billions in funding for stadiums)
Everyone deserves their day in court
This high-profile case is likely to drag on for months unless the NFL chooses to settle. However, whether you are a sports star working in the public eye or mid-sized company trying to grow, the choice of hiring or dismissing an employee can be complicated by a variety of factors.
If you are in a dispute or potentially could be, it is wise to speak with an attorney knowledgeable in employment law. Not only can they help with arbitration or litigation, they can help avoid unnecessary risks and poor choices to avoid the dispute in the first place.