Union Says NFL Owner’s Threat on Flag Violates Labor Law

October 11, 2017
By David Lee

DALLAS (CN) – A labor union on Tuesday claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ threat to punish players who kneel in protest during the national anthem violated the National Labor Relations Act.

Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in Fort Worth, two days after Jones told reporters after a 31-35 loss to the Green Bay Packers that “we will not disrespect the flag.”

Jones is the first NFL owner to explicitly threaten discipline for the practice. The union says employers are banned from threatening workers for “concerted” activity.

“The employer evidenced by repeated public statements is attempting to threaten, coerce and intimidate all Dallas Cowboys players on the roster in order to prevent them from exercising concerted activity protected under the act by saying he will fire any players involved in such concerted activity,” the complaint to the NLRB  states.

The union’s chief organizer Wade Rathke said Jones is bullying his employees to “unilaterally establish a previously nonexistent” work condition.

“The point is he threatened anybody and everybody,” Rathke told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We are trying to send Mr. Jones a message that there is a law here. The law here is that you have the ability to act with your co-worker. You can’t just roll over someone’s rights when they are a worker. You can’t bully workers on the job. President Trump might not get that. Jones might be confused. But these are workers with rights with the National Labor Relations Board.”

The NLRB will have an agent contact the union and the Cowboys to investigate the allegations, possibly resulting in the filing of a formal case to be tried before an administrative judge.

Jones’ announcement came two weeks after the Cowboys locked arms and kneeled before the national anthem was played before their game against the Arizona Cardinals, protesting police violence against African Americans. Protests increased around the league after President Donald Trump criticized them.

On Tuesday, Trump said on Twitter that federal tax laws should be changed to punish teams that do not punish players for such protests.

Jones said on Sunday: “There is no room here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other. We will not disrespect the flag.”

Individual Cowboys players have yet to kneel during the anthem, although two have held up their arm and fist at the end of the song.

From Courthouse News.

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Judge Lifts NFL Star’s Suspension in Last-Minute Order

September 8, 2017
By David Lee

SHERMAN, Texas (CN) – Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott will likely play in this weekend’s primetime opening game after all, thanks to a federal judge blocking his six-game suspension Friday based on the finding that his arbitration hearing was unfair.

The Dallas Cowboys’ top running back, who led the NFL in rushing yards last year in his rookie season, will now likely play the entire regular season as the case moves forward, beginning with Sunday night’s home opener against the New York Giants.Ruling that Elliott did not receive a “fundamentally fair hearing” when an arbitrator refused to allow him to cross-examine his accuser or call National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to testify during his appeal, U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant granted the NFL Players Association’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

The ruling comes three days after league-appointed arbitrator Harold Henderson rejected Elliott’s administrative appeal of the suspension and upheld the punishment.

The players’ union sued the NFL on Aug. 31 on Elliott’s behalf in Sherman, Texas federal court, claiming Goodell wrongfully suspended him last month over allegations of domestic violence by Tiffany Thompson, of Columbus, Ohio, last year.

Elliott has steadfastly denied the allegations and was never criminally charged for the alleged assault. Goddell banned him anyway for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, citing “substantial and persuasive evidence” that Elliott assaulted her.

The NFLPA claims league officials conspired to hide information that exonerates Elliott and its lead investigator, Kia Roberts, purportedly recommended no discipline be imposed on Elliott after she interviewed Thompson and concluded she “was not credible” and that there was “insufficient corroborating evidence of her incredible allegations.”

The NFL fired back at the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 5, claiming the league’s disciplinary body has already rejected Elliott’s appeal under the parties’ collective-bargaining agreement.

In a 22-page order released late Friday afternoon, Judge Mazzant agreed with the union that arbitrator Henderson breached the collective-bargaining agreement when he denied Elliott the ability to cross-examine Thompson and call Goodell as a witness, each of which “was of utmost importance and extremely relevant” to the appeal.

The judge also disagreed with the NFL’s claim that the union lacked standing to sue before Henderson issued his ruling, reminding the league that the arbitrator had already denied the union’s requests to cross-examine Thompson and call Goodell.

“Based on these denials and the fact that an arbitrator gives deference to the Commissioner’s decisions, it is evident that Henderson will likely affirm, in some manner, the Commissioner’s suspensions,” the order states. “As such, ‘there is a substantial risk that the harm will occur.’”

Mazzant said the NFL consistently acted to “suppress” investigator Roberts’ conclusion of no punishment and that her recommendations were excluded from the league’s report on the case and also “kept from Commissioner Goodell and his advisors.”

He said the league responded to the union’s request to compel her testimony as being unnecessary, consistent with another investigation and cumulative.

“Luckily the NFLPA found the fairness needle in the unfairness haystack and Henderson ordered Roberts to testify,” Mazzant wrote. “The arbitration record shows that Roberts’ testimony was everything but unnecessary, consistent and cumulative.”

From Courthouse News.

Dez Bryant & Texas Pol Drop Their Lawsuits

September 27, 2016
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) — Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and a state senator have settled their ugly dispute over state Sen. Royce West’s claim that Bryant trashed a rental home and Bryant’s countersuit accusing West and his law firm of stealing $500,000 from him.
Bryant and West, D-Dallas, filed a joint notice of nonsuit on Friday in Dallas County Court.
“West would show that he no longer desires to prosecute his causes of action against Bryant,” the 3-page filing states. “Bryant would show that he no longer desires to prosecute his counterclaims against West.”
Both men asked the court to dismiss their claims with prejudice.
West’s attorney, Trey Crawford with Gruber Elrod in Dallas, said Monday that the men “have settled the disputes between them amicably and have withdrawn all claims and counterclaims.” Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
The dispute began in June when West sued Bryant, claiming a 6,400-square-foot, gated community home in DeSoto that he rented to Bryant for more than two years was so badly trashed that it needed $60,000 in repairs.
“Under the lease, Mr. Bryant undertook to return the property to Mr. West in the same condition in which he received it, excepting normal wear and tear,” the complaint stated. “When Mr. Bryant returned the property to Mr. West in February 2016, however, Mr. West found it in a state of serious disrepair: littered with trash and feces, missing blinds and shutters, with cracked windows and blackened carpeting. Mr. Bryant has been unwilling to accept responsibility for the damage, forcing Mr. West to file this suit.”
West presented several photographs of the home that show large, dark stains in the carpet, abandoned furniture, piles of trash and cracked windows.
Bryant countersued West a month later for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and fraud, claiming that $200,000 and $3000,000 payments were stolen from him when West was his attorney.
“West would instruct endorsement companies and others to make payments for any endorsement agreements to [adviser David] Wells, not Bryant,” the counterclaim stated. “Many of these payments stopped at Wells and/or West, but never reached Bryant.”
West fired back in August, demanding sanctions against Bryant’s attorneys for the counterclaim he said was filed “in bad faith and without reasonable inquiry” into its validity.
West said the disputed $500,000 payments to him were received in trust “to settle lawsuits at Bryant’s request and such settlement payments were in fact made to litigants” who had sued Bryant.
West said $475,000 of the money Bryant wired him was paid to settle a lawsuit by third party Eleow Hunt, and that West kept $25,000 in legal fees, with Bryant’s consent.
“In total, West & Associates assisted Bryant in approximately nine matters over the course of approximately 4½ years, in only three of which West was the acting attorney, and in total for which West & Associates received $113,024.81, including actual expenses,” the motion stated.
West first served as Bryant’s attorney in July 2012, when the football player was accused of attacking his mother, Angela. Mother and son later appeared at a press conference at West’s law office, telling reporters that a family disagreement did occur but that there was no “family violence.” Bryant was not charged.

From Courthouse News.

TX Sen. Wants Sanctions for NFL Star’s Lawyers

August 18, 2016
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) — A Texas state senator suing Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant for trashing a rental home is demanding sanctions against Bryant’s attorneys for accusing him of stealing $500,000 from their client.
State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, said Wednesday that Bryant’s counterclaim was filed “in bad faith and without reasonable inquiry” into its validity.
West says the disputed $200,000 and $300,000 payments to him were received in trust “to settle lawsuits at Bryant’s request and such settlement payments were in fact made to litigants” who sued Bryant.
West says that $475,000 of the money Bryant wired him was paid to settle a lawsuit by third party Eleow Hunt, with West keeping $25,000 in legal fees with Bryant’s consent.
“In total, West & Associates assisted Bryant in approximately 9 matters over the course of approximately 4.5 years, in only three of which West was the acting attorney, and in total for which West & Associates received $113,024.81, including actual expenses,” the 20-page motion for sanctions states.
“There is no evidence that the acts that Bryant attributes directly to West in fact occurred, because they did not,” the motion adds.
West sued Bryant in June, claiming the 6,400 square foot home in a gated community in DeSoto that he rented to Bryant for over two years was left in a “state of serious disrepair, littered with trash and feces, missing blinds and shutters, with cracked windows and blackened carpeting.”
Several photographs provided with the complaint show large dark stains in the carpet, abandoned furniture, piles of trash and cracked windows.
West says that after his second attempt to collect reimbursement for the damage in May, Bryant’s counsel threatened to file a separate and unrelated lawsuit against him.
In answering the lawsuit, Bryant said West’s claims are barred “by the doctrine of unclean hands” and that any damages are “reduced by a set-off.”
West says that days after he filed the lawsuit, Bryant texted him and said “I wish you [had] thought about it before you thought it was a smart idea to go after me.”
According to screenshots provided in West’s motion, Bryant said “it’s too late” to talk about the damage done to West’s home.
“How can you forget about all of the shit y’all put me through,” Bryant is said to have texted. “I left that shit along [sic] because I wanted to forget about it. I no longer have sympathy for y’all people. Just know you started this.”
Bryant’s attorneys did not immediately respond to an email message requesting comment Thursday morning.

From Courthouse News.

Cowboys’ Dez Bryant Fires Back at Former Landlord

July 29, 2016
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant countersued a Texas state senator, claiming his former landlord and adviser used Bryant’s celebrity to line his own pockets and those of his associates.
Bryant sued Texas Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and former bail bondsman David Wells, according to NFL.com. The lawsuit reportedly claims Bryant had given power of attorney to Wells on the advice of West. Wells allegedly created Dez Enterprises to get marketing deals using Bryant’s name and likeness without Bryant’s knowledge.
“West would instruct endorsement companies and others to make payments for any endorsement agreements to Wells, not Bryant,” the lawsuit alleges, according to NFL.com. “Many of these payments stopped at Wells and/or West, but never reached Bryant.”
NFL.com reports the lawsuit claims Wells took over $200,000 of Bryant’s money from the endorsements and that West and his law firm allegedly took $300,000.
The counterclaim has not yet been made available by the court clerk.
West first sued Bryant last month in Dallas County District Court, claiming Bryant trashed a 6,400 square foot, gated community home in DeSoto that he rented from West from September 2013 to January 2016.
West said the home was “littered with trash and feces” and “cracked windows and blackened carpeting” that required the entire home to be repainted. He also said the flooring, lighting, ceiling fans, windows, doors, the gate and garage locks had to be replaced.
On Monday, Bryant filed an answer in West’s lawsuit. He said West’s claims are barred “by the doctrine of unclean hands” and that any damages are “reduced by a set-off.”
West’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.
Bryant seeks damages for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence and fraud. He is represented by Kenneth E. Broughton with Reed Smith in Houston.
In April 2015, Bryant’s former representatives with Official Brands sued his new agents with Roc Nation. Official Brands claims they helped Bryant build his “Throw up the X” brand and had an exclusive two-year contract to represent him.

From Courthouse News.

Texas Senator Sues Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant

June 22, 2016
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant trashed a suburban Dallas home he rented from attorney and State Sen. Royce West, costing $60,000 in repairs, West claims in court.
West sued Bryant in Dallas County District Court on Friday. He says Bryant rented his 6,400 square foot, gated community home in DeSoto from September 2013 to January 2016.
“The property, owned by Mr. West, also boasts a tennis court, swimming pool and gourmet kitchen,” the eight-page complaint states. “Under the lease, Mr. Bryant undertook to return the property to Mr. West in the same condition in which he received it, excepting normal wear and tear. When Mr. Bryant returned the property to Mr. West in February 2016, however, Mr. West found it in a state of serious disrepair: littered with trash and feces, missing blinds and shutters, with cracked windows and blackened carpeting. Mr. Bryant has been unwilling to accept responsibility for the damage, forcing Mr. West to file this suit.”
West says the entire home had to be repainted, all flooring and carpeting had to be cleaned or replaced, as well as the replacement of lighting, ceiling fans, broken windows, doors, the gate and garage locks. He says heavy cleaning was necessary to clear the home of “distinct odors.”
The senator attached several photographs of the damage to his complaint. They show several large, dark stains in the carpeting of the home, abandoned furniture, piles of trash and cracked windows.
West says he received a response from Bryant’s counsel after his second attempt at collecting in May.
“The letter implied that Mr. Bryant would seek to file a separate and unrelated lawsuit against Mr. West should Mr. West pursue collection of the costs of repair any further,” the complaint states. “The allegations made in the letter were vague, unfounded, and clearly intended as retaliatory.”
West says he has been unable to lease the home out to someone else because of “the continuing repair work” for the damage.
He seeks actual damages for breach of contract and promissory estoppel. He is represented by G. Michael Gruber with Gruber Elrod in Dallas.
West has served in the Texas Senate since 1993, representing the 23rd Senatorial District in Dallas County.
He previously represented Bryant in July 2012, when the football player was accused of physically attacking his mother, Angela. Mother and son later appeared at a press conference at West’s law office, telling reporters that a family disagreement did occur but that there was no “family violence.”
No charges were filed against Bryant.
West most recently made headlines by demanding action from Texas A&M University administrators after several minority high school students from Dallas were subjected to insults and racial slurs during a campus visit.

From Courthouse News.

Fantasy Football Group at War With the NFL

June 15, 2016
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s National Fantasy Football Convention has been postponed for a second consecutive year due to the National Football League’s “blatant and continued interference,” the convention said Tuesday evening.
The NFFC said it was “deeply disheartened” to announce the postponement of the inaugural event planned for July in Pasadena, Calif., and said the NFL’s interference has “fractured beyond recovery our capacity to deliver” the event.
“The NFFC is not going away,” the convention said in a statement. “We now leave it in the hands of the courts in full confidence that we will ultimately be able to bring the NFFC’s events to life.”
The first Fantasy Football Convention was scheduled for July 2015 in Las Vegas. Romo’s company, The Fan Expo LLC, sued the NFL in Dallas County Court that month, claiming the league pulled its support from the event and told players and league employees they could not participate because the venue, the Sands Expo and Convention Center, violated the league’s gambling policy.
Fan Expo’s attorneys called the NFL “corporate thugs” for making the alleged threats and for selectively enforcing its anti-gambling rules to force Romo to cancel the event.
The trial judge dismissed Fan Expo’s fraud, tortious interference with a contract and business disparagement claims in March. The company’s breach of contract and estoppel claims survived and will move forward.
Romo’s company filed a second lawsuit against the NFL in April, claiming the NFL pressured sponsor EA Sports to pull out of this year’s event. Fan Expo said the video game maker confirmed that it was canceling its sponsorship “as a direct result of communication from the NFL.”
“On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, another confirmed sponsor of the 2016 NFFC event and one potential sponsor of the 2016 NFFC event canceled their participation abruptly and within fifteen minutes of one another,” the complaint stated. “Both cancellations were without explanation. On information and belief, they had likewise received communication from the NFL.”
Romo is not a party in either lawsuit.
A California-based charity filed a similar lawsuit against the NFL two weeks ago in Dallas County Court. Strikes For Kids claimed the league forced it to change the venue of a celebrity bowling event from the Sunset Station Hotel & Casino due to gambling policy concerns.
The kids charity claims the new NFL-venue approved venue had substantially fewer bowling lanes that resulted in lost revenue. It claimed that after the event in July 2015, the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell sent it $5,000 in “hush money.”

From Courthouse News.