Jim Trotter’s contract with NFL Media has no arbitration clause, opening the door for a lawsuit in open court
When it comes to being sued, the NFL prefers the ultimate home-field advantage -- private arbitration ultimately controlled by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. If/when former (as of Friday) NFL Media employee Jim Trotter sues the league for the termination of his employment, the league may have to play a true road game.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Trotter’s contract does not include a clause that would force him to pursue his claims in any type of arbitration setting.
While the league possibly will still try to find a way to cram the square peg of arbitration into the round hole of Trotter’s contractual obligations (as the league has done with Jon Gruden’s pending lawsuit), the absence of clear, express language compelling Trotter to allow any and all claims to be resolved in the forum of the league’s choosing points to a process, if suit is filed, that would happen in open court.
Much more information would be available to the media and, in turn, the public. Absent a settlement, the case would eventually be resolved with a trial during which all relevant witnesses would testify and a jury eventually would make a decision on whether Trotter’s termination was, or wasn’t, influenced in whole or in part by the questions and concerns he raised regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
It’s surprising that the league doesn’t insert arbitration clauses into the contract signed by members of NFL Media. It’s a common term in coaching contracts, and it’s an item that rarely becomes a dealbreaker for the person who wants the job.
Trotter’s public comments to date hint strongly that litigation is coming. He has said he believes that his questions to Commissioner Roger Goodell “played a role” in the decision. And while Goodell has said that he was not involved in the decision, there’s only one way to get to the truth or something close to the truth when it comes to issues like this -- gather all pertinent documents, and put all persons with knowledge of the process under oath and start asking the kind of pointed questions in that setting that Trotter posed to Goodell publicly.