Seton Hall Law Professor Charles Sullivan in ESPN Article on Legal Ramifications of Benching NFL Anthem Protesters

Seton Hall Law Professor and Associate Dean, Charles Sullivan, was featured in an ESPN article regarding the legal ramifications, if any, for NFL teams that bench players for participating in protests during the national anthem before games.

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has indicated that he would “bench” players that do not stand for the national anthem.

Sullivan, a noted expert in employment law who has published three of the leading legal casebooks on the subject, appeared in an article entitled, “Is it legal for Jerry Jones to bench players who do not stand?”

Debate surrounding the protests has been heated and, according to our most recent Sports Poll, has resulted in a decline in NFL viewership.

As this graphic from Fox News shows, of those who are watching fewer games, more than half attribute the decrease to the anthem protests (47% in disapproval, 6% as a show of solidarity with the players).

And the number who said they are watching less NFL games is substantial. The New York Post, citing our poll headlined it succinctly: “30 Percent are Watching Less — and Most Blame Anthem.”

Although football is a game, the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, the players employees and the owners employers.

Given that the NFL relies heavily upon its TV contracts and those contracts are based upon the advertising revenue that mass viewership brings, it is not surprising that a decline in viewership based primarily upon one issue has that issue becoming a paramount concern for NFL owners.

As the ESPN article notes, beyond the presidential twitterstorm, social media campaigns and various boycotts both for and against the anthem protests:

According to a half-dozen experts we contacted, workplace employment law may have the last word. While the experts are divided on who would win such a legal battle, our sample ruled narrowly in favor of the owners.

Charles Sullivan, professor of law, Seton Hall University: “Where I think the players have a problem is there’s not really an adverse employment action if they are simply benched. They are still being paid, and I don’t think they necessarily have the right to play in games.”
Advantage: Owners

You can read the full article here, “Is it legal for Jerry Jones to bench players who do not stand?

You can read more about the most recent Sports Poll and its media coverage here:


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