January 23, 2015 / 6:38 PM / 3 years ago

Players union files grievance of NFL personal conduct policy

(Reuters) - The National Football League players union has filed a grievance against the league over its new personal conduct policy and is seeking a cease and desist order to prevent its implementation.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference to address domestic violence issues and the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy in New York, September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Because the policy was not deliberated under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL Players Association requested the grievance be heard immediately.

High-profile cases of domestic abuse by players Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and others triggered an avalanche of criticism against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and spurred an overhaul of the league’s personal conduct policy.

“The league’s revised conduct policy was the product of a tremendous amount of analysis and work and is based on input from a broad and diverse group of experts within and outside of football, including current players, former players, and the NFL Players Association,” the NFL said in a statement on Friday.

“We and the public firmly believe that all NFL personnel should be held accountable to a stronger, more effective conduct policy. Clearly, the union does not share that belief.”

The tougher policy, which NFL owners unanimously endorsed on Dec. 10, includes a provision to place an individual on paid leave if charged with a violent crime or sexual assault.

When he announced the new policy, Goodell said he had discussed the changes with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

However, when the new policy was unveiled, the union said it had “not been offered the professional courtesy of seeing the NFL’s new personal conduct policy before it hit the presses.”

Lisa Friel, a former sex crimes prosecutor who is advising the NFL on its personal conduct policy, said her group “spoke to the union a couple of times” while formulating the new rules.

“I know that the league had at least four face-to-face meetings with them because I was present at three of them,” Friel told Reuters on Friday in a telephone interview.

“And then there were other phone calls between different people at different levels of the league with counterparts at the union. So they were certainly involved in the process,” she said.

Friel said her group received feedback from the union but ultimately “that they didn’t agree with where we came out on certain things doesn’t mean they weren’t consulted.”

The union refused to comment on the grievance, which was filed Thursday night. It will be heard by a yet-to-be-named third-party arbitrator.

Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech

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