The NFL’s Players’ Association and the NFL Battle in Two Separate Lawsuits About Ezekiel Elliottt’s Six-Game Suspension

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the National Football League’s Players’ Association (NFLPA) filed suit seeking to vacate the forthcoming ruling of an arbitrator on the appeal of Elliott’s six-game suspension in a domestic violence case. The suit, filed in federal court in Texas, alleges that the NFL’s appeal process is fundamentally unfair because the arbitrator denied a request to have Elliott’s accuser testify at the appeal hearing. Elliott also alleges that NFL executives hid information that was favorable to his case before Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed the six-game suspension. Specifically, the suit accuses NFL lawyer Lisa Friel of withholding from Goodell evidence that Elliott’s accuser was not credible and discipline was not warranted.

The NFLPA and Elliott are not asking the court to make its own determinations about either party’s credibility, or any other matter of fact-finding. The main issue the NFLPA and Elliott are presenting is whether arbitration concerning the existence of credible evidence for employee discipline based on “he-said/she-said” claims of domestic violence can be fundamentally fair when NFL Investigators have concluded there was no credible evidence upon which to impose discipline, and when the arbitrator has refused to require the NFL to produce the accuser for testimony and cross-examination.

However, the NFL has filed its own lawsuit in New York federal court. The NFL seeks to uphold Elliott’s six-game domestic violence suspension. The arbitrator’s decision found that the league sufficiently followed the disciplinary process under its personal conduct policy and the NFL’s investigative report provided the required evidence and information for the suspension.

The NFLPA has asked the District Judge in Texas to stop the suspension for Elliott. The judge said he plans to rule by the end of the week. The Cowboys are set to start the 2017 season on Sunday against the New York Giants. The NFLPA has not responded to the NFL New York complaint.

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