Will the Maurice Clarett case have an impact on the NHL?

Discussion in 'Fugu's Business of Hockey Forum' started by Buffaloed, Sep 26, 2003.

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  1. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    He's challenging the NFL rule on anti-trust grounds that says a player must wait 3 years after his high school class graduates to enter the entry draft.

    Legal analysis thinks Clarett has case
     
  2. Trottier

    Trottier Very Random

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    Players are drafted into the NHL at too young an age right now! I fully expect to hear someone on the prospect board at some point rave about some 6 year old. "He's another Crosby, more developed than Gretzky was at that age!" :joker:

    Great country we live in, where a punk can screw up, dump on his team and school, and then sue to be handed a seven-figure job! :p
     
  3. David A. Rainer

    David A. Rainer Registered User

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    This is kind of what we were discussing in another thread in the forum. It violates anti-trust law but it is consistent with labor law.

    Also, the NBA rule was struck down under anti-trust law because it was a rule created outside the labor bargaining process (actually, it was created before there was even an NBA union). If it was a result of a CBA, the NBA rule would have been upheld as other restrictions have been. The NFL rule IS a result of the labor bargaining process, therefore is different than the NBA's rule, and should be upheld under the NLRA as the result of a fair labor bargaining process.

    Does anyone know if he's gone to the NFLPA and asked them to file a grievance on his behalf? Under the NLRA, you're supposed to exaust all administrative remedies before filing a complaint in district court. Quickest way to get your complaint kicked is to go straight to the courts (something the NLRA was definitely designed to prevent).
     
  4. Skydog

    Skydog Registered User

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    Tell me about it. The guy breaks the law, cheats in school and has Jim Brown going on every Sports program on television and radio claiming he is some sort of victim. If I had been caught cheating in college they would have kicked me out of school and would have had that hanging over me if I tried to go to another school. All he had to do was sit out a year of football, sounds reasonable to me.
     
  5. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    Can he file a grievance? He isn't a member of the NFLPA. Doesn't that make a difference?

    I don't know how much of the case law involves entry drafts, but I've always thought that was the part of this discussion that did not fit. It is one thing for an individual to essentially waive the right to sue for an anti-trust violation by joining a Union and abiding by the rules negotiated by the CBA.

    But Clarett? He isn't a party to the agreement. He can't join the Union and the rules negotiated exclude him.

    I don't think the story has any impact on the NHL but it will be interesting to watch.

    Tom
     
  6. David A. Rainer

    David A. Rainer Registered User

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    Strangely, yes. The Union represents Clarrett. A union is under a Duty of Fair Representation for all current, past and future employees (I wish I still had my casebook, I could be more specific with my answer). Clarrett is not a member of the union, however he is represented by them and therefore must request that they file a grievance on his behalf before any further action is taken. If they refuse, he can then go into district court but he'd have to allege a awful lot of things in his complaint to do it.

    Labor law is odd like that because it was the intent of the legislators to eliminate the role of the courts as much as possible in this area of the law. As such, labor laws are scewed to uphold the results of fair collective bargaining above most everything else (even anti-trust laws). So the party that wins this suit is the party that convinces the judge which body of law to follow - anti-trust or labor law. Similar restrictions have been reviewed under labor law and upheld and it is my belief that this would be no different.

    Not only does Clarrett not want this issue decided by labor law, but he doesn't want to have to go to the Nation Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") to do it. The NLRB is notorious for flip-flopping it's opinions on issues as the administrations change (new president generally = brand new board). And Republican boards tend to be very pro-business, something Clarrett sure as hell doesn't want.


    How will this affect the NHL? It won't, unless there are still some NHL restrictions that are not a product of collective bargaining. The law generally does it's best to uphold collective bargaining agreements, even to the detriment of other things.
     
  7. #37-#93-#27*

    #37-#93-#27* Guest

    Clarrett is selfish. He's a rare specimen, think about all the lesser talented and physically developed high schoolers that will bypass college and enter the draft only to be serving fries from McDonalds 3 years later. I hope he fails in the NFL so he can understand why players are essentially forced to go to college.
     
  8. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    The legal issues are well explained in this ESPN article

    I think this excerpt explains the heart of the case; Milstein told ESPN.com that because the draft eligibility rule is not included in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and that the rule is not a product of negotiation between the league and the Players' Association, the NFL's draft eligibility rule is not exempt from antitrust laws. But that seems up for debate. In Brown v. Pro Football Inc. (1996), eight Supreme Court justices decided that anything that is a mandatory subject of bargaining, which would include the NFL draft or any terms of employment, are immune from an antitrust attack. The fact that Clarett is not a member of the NFL Players' Association does not matter, Roberts said. Roberts said Clarett might be subject to terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as evidenced from Wood v. NBA (1987). Milstein points out that Leon Wood was drafted and therefore became a de facto member of the NBA Players Association. Clarett, he says, is different because he is not eligible to be drafted.

    It's going to be an interesting case. As far as it's impact on the NHL goes, don't expect to see the draft age raised in this lifetime.
     
  9. hillbillypriest

    hillbillypriest Registered User

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    I'm with DFA on this one. There is a passage in the linked article which I think sums this up in a nutshell.

    NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has not seen a copy of the memoradum, only the ESPN.com news report on it. He expressed skepticism that the memo would hurt the league's defense of its rule.

    "(The memo) overlooks roughly 30 years of developments in antitrust law and we would not expect it to have any bearing whatsoever on the case," he said.


    The Clarett circumstances sound very similar to the circumstances of a case brought up against the NBA by a young basketball prospect named Leon Wood who was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984 who was subject to a salary cap of $75,000 on the basis of the NBA's CBA of the time. Wood sued the league on the basis that the imposition of the cap subjected someone who was not a member of the union to the terms of the CBA and was a violation of the Sherman Act. Judge Winter of the Second Circuit (apparently notably pro league in his decision tendancies) determined that unions involved in collective bargaining properly negotiate on behalf of all present and future members to ensure that all union members who work under the terms of such agreements are treated fairly.

    (Note: I have posted this link before, but the Wood case is discussed in this overview of U.S. sport Labour/anti-trust law. Jonathan C. Tyras - Players versus Owners: Collective Bargaining and Anti-Trust After Brown V. Pro Football The discussion of the Wood case starts on p. 320).

    Tom, I think the Wood case answers your question. As for what this means for the NHL, if, as I must expect, the Clarett case is dismissed for the same reason, it means that the NHLPA can take the tried and true route in CBA negotiations of screwing the rookies as their primary area of concessions.
     
  10. hillbillypriest

    hillbillypriest Registered User

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    Sorry to cover the same ground here Buffaloed. I was posting just as you posted. As you highlighted, the ESPN article highlights the Wood case. I don't think Clarett has a chance.
     
  11. David A. Rainer

    David A. Rainer Registered User

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    So the rule was not a result of collective bargaining. Hmmmmmm... learn something new every day. I'm amazed that there are any such rules left after X amount of years of labor negotiations! Then the rule has a chance of being struck down (essentially telling the NFL that if you want that rule, collectively bargain for it).

    This can only affect the NHL if it also has some rules left that were not a result of collective bargaining.
     
  12. hillbillypriest

    hillbillypriest Registered User

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    I don't have a link to the NFL's CBA, but this article Here indicates that the age restriction is in the NFL's CBA since 1990 and is a restriction that is supported by the NFLPA.

    Just don't see things working out for Clarett the way he wants...
     
  13. David A. Rainer

    David A. Rainer Registered User

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    Arrrrggghhhhhh! So which is it? The ESPN article says that it's not a part of the CBA and your article says that it is. It's an important issue because many issues will definitely turn on whether it is or isn't part of the CBA.

    "Jack Sahl, a law professor at the University of Akron, said if Clarett's case was viewed as a matter of antitrust law _ without the collective bargaining agreement _ it would arguably be a restraint on competition.

    'Of course, this is a more complicated situation because this rule is a part of the collective bargaining agreement and, therefore, subject to our labor laws and possibly exempt from antitrust scrutiny,' Sahl said."
     
  14. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    The rule isn't in the CBA. It's in the NFL bylaws. The NFLPA made a tacit agreement that during the term of the CBA, it would not sue or support any suit against the terms of the college draft that are included in the NFL constitution and by laws. The NFL spokesman doesn't claim it's in the CBA.

    "We don't believe that a challenge to the rule will be successful," said Greg Aiello, NFL vice president of communications. "The rule's been in place since 1990. It's supported by the NFL Player's Association. And we're prepared to defend it."

    You can read the entire text of the lawsuit here:
    http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/nfl/clarettnfl92303cmp.pdf
     
  15. David A. Rainer

    David A. Rainer Registered User

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    I wonder if the attorney is aware that he labelled the National Football League Players Association as "NFPLA" on paragraphs 12 and 13? Opps!

    Any chance at getting a copy of the Answer? I can see one important allegation that has been left out.
     
  16. hillbillypriest

    hillbillypriest Registered User

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    Thanks for posting the case. It obviously helps to clarify things (a bit). If there's no specific provision in the NFL CBA, then there is presumably a glimmer of hope for Clarett. However, if the NFLPA and the NFL both support the age limit even if it is an NFL bylaw, does this change things that much? If the NFLPA is the duly recognized bargaining unit for NFL players, and if Aiello is correct that the age restriction would be supported by the NFLPA, wouldn't it be a simple matter for the NFLPA and the NFL agree to make a side deal to amend the CBA prior to its scheduled expiry to restore the age restriction and thereby restore the protection against Sherman Act scrutiny? Still seems to me to be a fairly weak case that Clarett is trying to put forward in light of previous decisions.

    Still don't think it would mean a thing for the NHL because I believe (subject to check - this is why I'm not a lawyer - I'm too lazy) that draft age is a specifically outlined provision of the CBA. Beyond the current CBA, there could be a potential problem, but as I say, the NHLPA is likely to offer up the young for sacrifice as their first concession in negotiations, so I would not expect this to change.
     
  17. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    They can't make a new CBA simply to exclude Clarett. There's some ex post facto mumble-jumble involved in that. The rule itself is ambiguous. It doesn't make an age restriction. It states that a player isn't eligible until 3 years after his high school class graduates. If you graduate at age 16, are you eligible for the NFL draft at age 19? It leaves the door wide open for a judge to impose his own solution.

    The lawsuit makes a good point that the NLRB does not consider age a mandatory issue for collective bargaining. I believe the case the NFL is using as a precedent was about the entry level salary cap. Salary is a mandatory collective bargaining issue.

    The outcome will probably depend on how the political winds are blowing. The only question I have is why is a medical malpractice attorney representing Clarett in an anti-trust case?
     
  18. David A. Rainer

    David A. Rainer Registered User

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    Constitutional protection against ex post facto laws only apply to state action. The NFL and NFLPA are not state actors nor quasi-state actors. The ex post facto clause (Art I, § 10) will not be a bar to amending the CBA. However, Clarrett would have one hell of a lawsuit against the NFLPA for Breach of Duty of Fair Representation if they tried to amend it to exclude only him.
     
  19. hillbillypriest

    hillbillypriest Registered User

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    Hope you guys don't mind me weighing in with my uniformed Canadian opinion of US labour laws (I mean labor laws), but I just don't see why, if the NFLPA saw fit to support the NFL on an issue and amend the CBA to reinforce the age restriction against entry into the draft that it would be regarded as an attempt to exclude a single person.

    In the first place, my (meager) understanding of the evolution of the non-statutory labor exemption is that originally arose from the outcry against an interpretation of the Sherman Act in the early 1900s that was extremely detrimental to the formation of unions. So I would think that the labor movement would come out very strongly against an interpretation that would restrict the latitude of a collective bargaining unit to represent its constituency. (By the way, I'm not particularly a union "fan").

    The other thing is, if the NFLPA actually decides to express an opinion on this matter, I would suggest that there would be a good reason for doing so, and the fact that the NFLPA has come out in support of the league would carry a lot of weight. Although Clarett may be capable of playing in the NFL right now, most likely players of his age will not be. Arguably there is a broader social purpose being served by restricting entry to an age when most players would be finished college - that is, the vast majority of college football players who won't make the NFL will be encouraged to finish their degrees. While there is a social purpose vs. individual rights conflict going on here, at the highest level this is true of the concept of collective bargaining itself. Some union members benefit from the deals negotiated ostensibly on their behalf, however there will, in any union, be individuals who would do better by being outside of the union.

    Anyway, as I said, I hope you don't mind me going on like this. I just think I learn more when I throw out my propositions to be tested on the board.

    HBP
     
  20. thinkwild

    thinkwild Veni Vidi Toga

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    And they are interestin propositions hillbillypriest. Its rather curious that the NFLPA hasnt expressed an opinion on this yet. IF they came out in favour of keeping the restriction, I would be very suspicious, wouldnt you?

    It seems wrong that this is a racial issue and almost seems exploitative of Jackson and Brown to take it on as such, but I guess that is the nature of American sport. It does seem though, that all NFL prospects are forced into a slave labour pool, if I may, acting as the NFLs only real minor league system, for the Universities to exploit in order to generate millions of dollars.

    Requiring 3 years out of high school before being allowed to play in the NFL sure does seem in kids best interest. We know best? Although requiring they pass a University course in order to be able to play in the NFL does seem a little unfair and disproportionate. Tough case. Seeing the 18 yr old LeBron playing in the NBA, and 18 yr olds in the NHL, this NFL rule seems destined for being struck down. It is unfair, but its intent has a noble side. Perhaps they could allow 18 yr olds to play in the NFL but still insist they remain in school. After all, football is not like a hockey schedule where they have no time. And its only 1 semester per year. But College football seems destined to lose its marquee players earlier if the challenge is successful.

    It also reminds why NFL rookies can have an immediate impact as opposed to hockey where you have to wait years for them to develop. NFL they start later and achieve free agency earlier. What if we negotiated a clause in the next CBA that hockey players had to be 21 before they could be drafted or play in the NHL? Would development time be reduced? Would it help competitive balance by reducing the number of years it takes to rebuild, for those seeing that as a problem?
     
  21. Buffaloed

    Buffaloed webmaster

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    The NFLPA did make a statement

    NFLPA Press Release
    NFLPA OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING MAURICE CLARETT LAWSUIT AGAINST THE NFL

    Washington, DC--The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) issued the following statement today concerning the lawsuit filed by Maurice Clarett against the National Football League (NFL) challenging the NFL's eligibility rules for the NFL college draft:

    Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL and the NFLPA, the NFLPA has agreed that, during the term of the CBA, it will not sue or support any suit against the terms of the college draft that are included in the NFL Constitution and Bylaws. As a result, the NFLPA cannot take any position with respect to Mr. Clarett's lawsuit.
     
  22. PecaFan

    PecaFan Registered User

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    Impact on the NHL? Isn't this the other way around? Clarett will be using the NHL as evidence for his side.

    The reason the NHL has the draft age of 18 is because it was lowered due to legal reasons, they weren't allowed to keep the guys out until they were 19 or 20.

    I haven't studied this case a lot, but it seems to me this situation the NFL finds themself in is exactly what happened to the NHL. I just don't see how they can win this.
     
  23. Tom_Benjamin

    Tom_Benjamin Registered User

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    I think it was more that the WHA started signing teenagers.

    The biggest difference between the NHL and the NFL is that the NHL CBA explicitly states who is eligible for the draft and who is not. According to the news reports, the NFL agreemenmt is silent on the actual eligibility requirements.

    Tom
     
  24. speeds

    speeds Registered User

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    I'm not saying I'm expecting it, but if in the new CBA it were specified that no one could be drafted until they were 20, would that be legal since it is included in the CBA?
     
  25. hillbillypriest

    hillbillypriest Registered User

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    In my view, yes. If it is the product of give and take collective bargaining between the NHLPA and the NHL, the provisions of collective agreement is would be exempted from anti-trust scrutiny, even though it may have the effect of excluding players that have not yet entered the union.
     
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