Last week, the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction over a National Football League (“NFL”) player’s six-game suspension. In the case, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, suspended a Dallas Cowboys player, Ezekiel Elliott, after Elliott was accused of committing domestic violence against his former partner despite that Elliott was not arrested or charged with a crime by police. Instead, Goodell relied on an independent NFL investigation when he issued the suspension.
In response to the lengthy suspension, Elliott sought an appeal before an arbitrator pursuant to the terms of the National Football League Players Association’s (“NFLPA”) Collective Bargaining Agreement. During a three-day arbitration proceeding, the arbitrator considered Goodell’s decision to suspend Elliott using an “arbitrary and capricious” standard of review. In addition, the arbitrator denied the NFLPA’s request that both Goodell and Elliott’s accuser be compelled to offer testimony. Elliott’s six-game suspension was ultimately upheld by the arbitrator.
Following arbitration and before the arbitrator issued his decision, the NFLPA filed a motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction with the Eastern District of Texas. In a 22-page decision that was highly critical of the investigation and appeals process used in Elliott’s case, the federal court held “Elliott did not receive a fundamentally fair hearing,” and granted the NFLPA’s request for a preliminary injunction.
Please stay tuned to Disputing for future developments in this case!