Interested in the legal ins and outs of the NFL’s kneeling crisis?

Interested in the legal ins and outs of the NFL’s kneeling crisis. Here’s an article: Bloomberg Law – Document – Fired for Kneeling? Not So Fast, Daily Labor Report (BNA)

Bottom line: It depends on the NFL Player Association’s CBA language. If the NFL wants, yes, they could fire a player (or discipline them), but its CBA (collective bargaining agreement) says, according to this article, that the NFL must prove “personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club.” So far, owners and players have supported kneeling, which makes it difficult (to impossible) to prove it is conduct harmful to a club.

What’s interesting about this article is that the reporter not only found the NFL’s CBA, but also the NBA’s, and the NBA’s actually has a national anthem clause: “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and line up in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.” Arguably that means the NBA’s CBA doesn’t require as high a showing, and any kneeling would seem to be contrary to its national anthem clause, whether it harms a club or not.

Wondering about baseball? Check out the article’s discussion of the MLB’s CBA.

One thing not discussed in the article, if the NFL were to go to court and ask a judge to issue an order requiring players to stand, then arguably the players’ First Amendment speech rights would be triggered. While the NFL itself is not subject to the First Amendment (the First Amendment only limits what the government can do), it would trigger the First Amendment if it asked a judge to issue an order limiting speech. Until then it’s a matter of collectively bargained rights (and plain business power).

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