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NFL Player Alleges Workplace Harassment in Locker Room


An NFL player might not be the most common example of a workplace harassment and discrimination victim. The level of skill and necessary roughness required at that level of professional football playing require a certain level of toughness.

Yet Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins is reportedly considering a workplace discrimination lawsuit. The tackle player alleges that he was subjected to daily bullying and harassment by teammates in the locker room. The NFL has already suspended one of the alleged offenders, Richie Incognito, and an NFL special investigator has met with Martin to hear his story. Martin has also been on leave from the team, reportedly receiving counseling.

From the perspective of employment law, many outcomes are possible from this scenario. The suspended player, Richie Incognito, has filed a grievance against the Dolphins, pursuant to the procedures specified in his contract and/or the collective bargaining agreement signed between the NFL and the players. On the flip side, the allegations made by Martin have the potential for developing into a full-scale employment litigation suit.

With both players gone, the Dolphins may have hurt their competitive edge. They lost in their recent game against the Carolina Panthers. The discrimination claim has also become a topic of national media coverage.

The story illustrates the importance of having procedures in place for responding to complaints of workplace discrimination or harassment. Such procedures could be published in employee handbooks or other company publications. When investigating such claims, the privacy of both parties should be respected. 

Source: thephinsider.com, “Jonathan Martin bullying investigation statement from Ted Wells,” Kevin Nogle