Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Is it legal for Jerry Jones to bench players who don't stand?

Here's the Ultimatum Jerry Jones Just Gave Cowboys Players Over Anthem NFL players' union slams Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for threatening to bench players
Edmund Wade | 12 October, 2017, 00:51

The Cowboys never issued a formal statement about the protests during Week 3, the first group of National Football League games to be played after President Donald Trump's outburst about the National Football League and its players.

Jones has stepped up his criticism in recent days of players' national anthem protests meant to draw attention to racial inequality and has pledged to bench players who refuse to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner.

Local 100 of the United Labor Unions filed a complaint against the Dallas Cowboys, alleging the owner and GM violated the National Labor Relations Act when Jones, on Sunday, said that if any of his players "disrespects the flag", they will not play.

No Cowboys player has kneeled during the anthem, although the team met Wednesday to discuss Jones' comments. However, he clarified Tuesday that players could conduct themselves similarly to how they did in Week 3 before the Cardinals game, when they kneeled before the anthem but stood arm-in-arm when it was played.

The Cowboys have a bye this week but will return to action October 22 against the 49ers. While NFL teams are private businesses and not covered by the First Amendment, the use of publicly-funded stadiums and acceptance of government funding for pregame patriotic displays could bring legal liability. "If there's anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play", Jones told assembled reporters.

ESPN's Josina Anderson tweeted out quotes from one anonymous player who seems apoplectic.

"This is a workplace issue", Jones said. "That's not why they're kneeling, but if it were, that would be something that would clearly be a protected activity". I know in the modern age people think workers shouldn't have rights, but they still do.

Paul Secunda, director, labor and employment law program, Marquette University: "I've heard a lot of fans talk about Constitutional rights". Employment law allows private sector employers great latitude in restricting employee conduct and speech while at work.

"If the government pays for the patriotic display and the firing is a result of the behavior being deemed insufficiently patriotic, it is conceivable that that a claim could then be articulated", said Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment attorney in NY.

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