Dolphins Locker Room Situation May Cause Legal Troubles

Players in the National Football League are governed by the collective bargaining agreement, which is hashed out by the NFL Player’s Association and league owners. Athletes are offered certain protections under this agreement, and a breach could lead to legal troubles for the NFL.

legal troublesIt appears as though the NFL may have a problem on its hands with the recent troubles in the Miami Dolphin’s locker room. Jonathan Martin left the team as a result of alleged bullying by Richie Incognito. Hazing is not uncommon in football locker rooms, but it seems that this situation may have been severe enough to have legal implications.

Both Incognito and the Dolphins could be targeted in a lawsuit by Martin, as Florida law allows people to sue for monetary damages if they have “been intimidated or threatened” on the basis of “race or color,” according to ESPN. Meanwhile, the Dolphins may be sued for failure to provide a safe workplace.

Martin is prepared for legal action, as he and his family recently hired sports attorney David Cornwell for representation during the NFL’s investigation into the incident.

Cornwell has plenty of experience practicing sports law, as he is the Executive Director of the National Football League Coaches Association, which means he represents the interests of nearly 500 assistant coaches, according to the Sun-Sentinel. He’s also been an attorney in numerous high-profile cases, such as helping Major League Baseball star Ryan Braun avoid a 50-game suspension after allegedly testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2012.

The Dolphins case is different than any other, as most hazing is generally innocent enough to not require legal action, including making rookies dress up in costumes or carry pads off the field. But, this situation could have major implications for the future in sports. In fact, a sports law may be implemented to outlaw bullying and hazing to prevent any further instances where it goes too far.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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