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AFL-CIO Files Amicus Curiae Brief for Tom Brady against NFL

The AFL-CIO filed an amicus curiae brief on Tuesday supporting Tom Brady’s lawsuit against the NFL.

“Even a cursory review of the Commissioner’s decision makes clear that he acted in the self-serving role of an employer justifying his own disciplinary decision rather than as a neutral arbitrator considering an appeal,” the five-page filing maintains.

The NFL Players Association, a labor organization, filed the appeal on Brady’s behalf. The NFLPA remains one of more than fifty labor organizations that make up the AFL-CIO.

The New England Patriots quarterback seeks an en banc hearing of the thirteen judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Brady needs the court to overturn a 2-1 decision earlier this spring upholding the NFL’s punishment. Should the court rebuff his plea, Brady can either accept the suspension or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Commissioner Roger Goodell meted out a four-game suspension to Brady for an alleged general awareness of a “more probable than not scheme” to deflate footballs before the AFC Championship Game in early 2015. Goodell decided upon the fairness of his initial judgment in a league appeal. Brady finds this, and Goodell’s shifting rationale for the punishment, grounds for invalidation of the suspension by a federal court.

“The substantiality of ‘the Commissioner’s shifting rationale for Brady’s discipline,’” the AFL-CIO explains in quoting the dissent of the chief judge of the court to the ruling that went against Brady, “serves as strong evidence that the Commissioner was not acting as a neutral arbitrator considering an appeal at all, but rather as an employer seeking to justify his own initial disciplinary decision. The panel majority therefore erred in extending deference to the Commissioner’s decision.”

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