Pro Football GM 101 | Filing a grievance
The term “grievance” is being tossed around a lot lately. It comes to light when players and
management disagree on the handling or the execution of an event. Sometimes it might be a
contract issue, other times it's off the field actions or discipline, if one side has a problem with a decision it can be taken to an independent arbitrator. This mechanism is provided in the collective bargaining agreement between the players union (NFLPA) and a particular club to “mediate” a disagreement. The purpose of it is to keep league issues, in house and not in the court system.
Current examples of this are former Jaguars RB Lenard Fournette, filing a grievance that his guarantees, previously voided by the Jags for his actions that resulted in a suspension in 2018, should not have caused those guarantees to disappear. Jacksonville suspended him for one game, because of his actions in a game- where he ran out on the field and punched an
opponent- and thus removing future guarantees of his salary. It could not be filed or heard
until he was no longer on the team (he was released on Monday). The grievance process will be binding.
The other event that will probably result in a grievance being filed by the player is
former Ravens player Earl Thomas being waived for “conduct detrimental” to the team and
thus waiving his guarantees in future years. This will eventually be determined by an arbitrator as well. Players/agents/club officials will all be deposed and heard from during these cases. Usually a portion of the players salary remains as a lean against a team’s salary cap count while the process is being heard. These grievances are commonplace in today’s NFL.