NHL launches two legal maneuvers regarding lockout

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The National Hockey League has started two legal maneuvers in connection with the ongoing labor impasse, filing a class action complaint before the New York Federal Court to seek declaration that the ongoing lockout is legal.

Simultaneous with the filing of the complaint, the league also filed an unfair labor practice charge against the NHL Players Association before the National Labor Relations Board.

In the lawsuit, the NHL claims that by threatening to “disclaim interest”, the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.

The NHL made the move amid reports that the NHLPA is contemplating a “disclaimer of interest” action to dissolve the union and gain rights under antitrust laws.

In recent events, NFL and NBA players have both used “disclaimer of interest” and then players have filed antitrust lawsuits as a means to fight against league lockouts.

For players to formally decertify, a vote is necessary and it can take 45 to 60 days. The “disclaimer of interest” is a legal shortcut, allowing the union, or in this case the players association, to simply announce it no longer represents the players.

Although a vote is not required for a disclaimer of interest, NHLPA members will conduct one to decide whether to authorize the NHLPA to embrace that strategy.

The 43-page NFL lawsuit named the 31 members of the NHLPA negotiating committee, plus unsigned restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto, fellow New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, signed draft pick Shane Prince, draft pick Cristobal Nieves and unsigned unrestricted free agent Mark Eaton as defendants.

In its lawsuit, the NFL is asking the court to declare that the NHL’s ongoing lockout “does not violate the antitrust laws, and as such, can neither be enjoined nor result in any legally cognizable or compensable damages to defendants.”

Throughout its complaint, the NHL uses several player quotes to argue that the disclaimer of interest is simply a legal strategy and not a sincere effort to dissolve.

In a statement, the NHLPA said it had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit but said that the NHL’s argument that players “should be stopped from even considering their right to decide whether or not to be represented by a union is completely without merit”.

Earlier, the two sides returned to the negotiating table but produced no positive result that could help end the lockout.

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