Nevada court orders Jon Gruden case to go to NFL arbitration

A three-judge panel of Nevada's Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with the NFL against former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, saying that he was subject to arbitration even as a former employee and thus ineligible to sue the league over his 2021 termination.

Justices Elissa F. Cadish and Kristina Pickering reversed a district court's order that denied the NFL's motion to force Gruden's complaint into its arbitration process. The case was remanded to the lower court with an order to grant the arbitration motion.

Justice Linda Marie Bell disagreed with the majority's interpretation of the arbitration clause in the NFL Constitution, siding with Gruden's attorneys who argued that it does not apply to former employees.

"I disagree with their conclusion because the facts of this case do not support survival of the clause past the end of Gruden's employment," Bell wrote in her dissent.

Gruden's lawsuit accuses the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell of "directly leaking" racist and misogynistic emails in an attempt to harm Gruden's reputation and force him out as coach of the Raiders in October 2021.

Gruden filed his lawsuit in November 2021, weeks after resigning under pressure when some of his emails from more than a decade earlier were published by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The emails had surfaced in the league's investigation of then-Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.

Gruden told ESPN last year that the league "thought they could cherry-pick emails from years ago, when I wasn't even a coach, and try to end my career." At the time, league spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN that "neither the NFL nor the commissioner leaked Coach Gruden's offensive emails."

The NFL has argued for courts to toss out Gruden's claim, saying a clause in his contract with the Raiders required him to file his claim through league arbitration.

Gruden attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner argued that arbitration, a process that is controlled by the NFL and where any discovery would not be made public, would be unfair to his client because Gruden is no longer a league employee.

Hosmer-Henner said Gruden would seek a hearing before all seven justices of the Nevada Supreme Court.

"The panel's split decision would leave Nevada an outlier where an employer can unilaterally determine whether an employee's dispute must go to arbitration and also allow the employer to adjudicate the dispute as the arbitrator," Hosmer-Henner said.

Attorney Kannon Shanmugam, representing the NFL, declined to comment on the ruling.

ESPN Senior Writer Don Van Natta Jr. and The Associated Press contributed to this report.