LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Clark County judge has sided with former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden in the NFL’s push to settle his lawsuit against the league through arbitration — and not the public process of discovery.
Judge Nancy Allf’s ruling Wednesday denied the NFL’s request for arbitration entirely. Allf previously sided with Gruden in May in the league’s attempts to toss the lawsuit.
Gruden resigned from the Raiders on Oct. 11, 2021, after emails surfaced showing he used racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments. A New York Times investigation revealed Gruden had not only used racist comments in an email in 2011, but had regularly used derogatory language in emails during his employment with ESPN.
Gruden filed the lawsuit against the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, in November 2021, over what he called his “forced” resignation the month before.
The report specifically noted that for several years, Gruden “casually and frequently unleashed misogynist and homophobic language… to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.”
Lawyers for the league have claimed Gruden “consistently” sent “derogatory emails” while he led the team, court filings the 8 News Now Investigators reviewed this summer indicated.
Recent court filings indicate the NFL completed its investigation into alleged harassment in the Washington organization in July 2021. Out of tens of thousands of emails, Gruden’s were among the only released, his lawyers have said.
Gruden and the NFL agreed to a confidential settlement when he resigned, court documents indicate.
“Gruden’s claim (and purported finding of fact) on the timing of his emails is, in reality, very much disputed by the NFL parties and in fact false,” lawyers for the NFL wrote in documents filed in August. “Discovery — necessary to make any finding of fact on this issue — will show that Gruden continued to send the same kinds of derogatory emails consistently following his start date with the Raiders.”
In her ruling, Allf said it would be unfair if the case went to an arbitrator since Goodell is the de facto arbitrator.
“Gruden’s claims are properly brought against Commissioner Goodell based on the specific actions he allegedly took, individually and as a representative of the NFL, against Gruden,” Allf wrote in the ruling. “Whether Commissioner Goodell hears the arbitration or selects a designated substitute arbitrator is irrelevant as the process forecloses any prospect of a meaningful and fairly conducted arbitration.”
Allf also said the NFL Constitution, not Gruden’s settlement with the Raiders or the league, does not specify the issue would need to be settled through arbitration.
“The NFL parties did not introduce evidence that the settlement with the Raiders obligated either Gruden or the Raiders to arbitrate this dispute or evidence that the arbitration clause in the agreement survived the settlement,” she said.
Gruden signed a $100 million contract with the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018. According to the lawsuit, he is not being paid the remaining balance on the contract, which runs through 2027. His lawyers have said Gruden is losing out on endorsement deals, including one with footwear company Skechers.
A future court date had not been scheduled as of Thursday.