Forced Arbitration Penalty On Oakland Raiders

On NFL Sundays, penalties and mistakes could potentially cost your favorite team a win. 

For the Oakland Raiders, a franchise that has been a non-factor in the NFL for the past 10 years, they’re not only making mistakes on the field of play, but also violating established employment laws. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, earlier this year, the Raiderettes, the team’s cheerleading squad, filed a lawsuit against the franchise for, among other things, underpaying wages, withholding wages for months and forcing cheerleaders to pay expenses the team forces them to incur. 

The cheerleaders are paid $125 per game (withheld until the end of the season) and are not paid for practices or other appearances on behalf of the team.  Fines are also handed out when cheerleaders are late or their hair and makeup isn’t “right.”

The kicker, no pun intended, is that the Raiders have filed a motion to use a forced arbitration clause buried in the fine print of their contracts that eliminates the Raiderettes’ right to justice by forcing them into an arbitration hearing led by, of all people, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

If the terms of the Raiders’ abusive forced arbitration clause are upheld, the following could happen: 

  • The cheerleaders’ dispute must be arbitrated under rules written by the NFL Commissioner; 
  • The NFL Commissioner’s decision would be “final, conclusive and unappealable;” 
  • The NFL Commissioner can force the parties to keep the entire proceedings, including the outcome, confidential and;
  • The NFL Commissioner may disregard the laws of evidence used in judicial proceedings, disallow discovery, and “conduct the arbitration in such manner as he deems appropriate.” 

Consumers, employees, and small business owners are often forced to sign these clauses in order to receive services or get hired and often don't know they've signed-away their legal rights until it is too late.

Forced arbitration renders state and federal laws protecting Americans unenforceable by throwing cases out of court and funneling them into secretive, costly and biased forced arbitration. 

The Raiders’ organization generates millions in revenue each year but is withholding the opportunity for the employees that cheer the team on to receive justice and accountability through court. It’s a lose-lose situation for the franchise both on and off the field. 

If no one is accountable, no one is safe.