This article is filled with misinformation. That isn’t surprising considering the fact that it quotes Tony Covington, the NAACP’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs. In the article, Covington is quoted as saying “Jerry Jones’ comments are more than tone-deaf, more than misinformed and misguided – they are a public commitment by an NFL owner to violate his players’ Constitutional right to free speech, one of the principles on which our nation was founded. They are proof that athletes like Colin Kaepernick who have quietly and peacefully used their platform to protest violence against communities of color do so at their own peril.”
Actually, that’s one of the myths that keeps popping up in articles. (I wish these reporters did their homework.) This article sets things straight, quoting Daniel Schwartz, employment law partner at Shipman & Goodwin, as saying “As a general rule, the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the private workplace.” Later, he adds that “the First Amendment prevents government, but not companies or individuals, from limiting free speech.”
It’s indisputable that the players’ sideline protests have hurt NFL attendance and TV ratings. Team owners, like Jerry Jones, have the right to protect their investment. When their employees’ actions hurt their profitability, the owner has the right to install a code of conduct for his employees with the stipulation that it’s applied equally to each employee.
Here’s what Baruch had to say (his comments have been edited and condensed for clarity):
1. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sunday that any player who disrespects the flag won’t play in Cowboys games. What are the legal ramifications to a statement like that?
Probably none. He’s a private employer so he’s free to make any rules he wants that infringe on free speech. He’s totally unconstrained legally.
That definitely isn’t the answer the NAACP wanted to hear, though it’s the answer they probably already knew.