Contrary to popular belief, NFL players are not without recourse when it comes to league discipline. They, under the CBA and labor law, are afforded industrial due process.
Although industrial due process (IDP) is different from Constitutional due process, it has elements that, if adhered to, provide protection against unfair employer investigations.
Vilma’s legal team and the NFPA (on behalf of Fujita, Hargrove and Smith) are both asserting this defense in their lawsuits against the NFL.
The NFLPA’s brief sets out the elements succinctly as follows: (See links to NFLPA and Vilma suits below)
1. Since the charges were made, the NFLPA, on behalf of the Players, has tried to utilize the procedures set forth in the CBA to ensure that the Players were afforded a fair process in the appropriate forum to defend themselves against the extremely serious and false accusations made against them.
2. (i) the NFL violated express CBA requirements and refused to provide the Players with access to critical documents or witnesses, or anything resembling the fairness mandated by the CBA and governing industrial due process law … (iii) the CBA’s System Arbitrator possesses exclusive jurisdiction to arbitrate … the “pay-for-performance” conduct charged here, and that jurisdiction was improperly usurped by the Commissioner, whom the NFLPA never agreed could serve as arbitrator under such circumstances.