Beasley Allen has filed a class action lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) alleging two of its benefit plans of racial discrimination and more.
The suit is centered around the Player Disability & Survivor Benefit Plan and the Player Disability & Neurocognitive Benefit Plan, collectively called “The Plans.” The Plans allow former NFL players to receive benefits if they are diagnosed with specific neurocognitive impairments before they turn 55.
Along with racial discrimination, the class action is seeking redress for wrongful denial of benefits, violations of governing regulations, and breaches of fiduciary duties. Specifically, it alleges the NFL employs a racist assumption that African Americans and other non-white people are inherently less intelligent than white people and the damages incurred because of those assumptions related to disability and other benefits.
According to The Plans, players must undergo a series of tests to diagnose impairments to receive benefits because they suffer from neurocognitive impairment. If the tests indicate a neurocognitive impairment, the impairment is ranked as either “mild” or “moderate,” with the monthly payments related to the ranking.
The tests conducted take a raw score and convert the scores to a scaled version, which is supposed to provide a baseline. Instead, as alleged in the complaint, the scores are adjusted using a race-norming methodology, designed under the racist assumption that African Americans and other non-white persons have a lower baseline neurocognitive functioning than white participants. Because of this alleged assumption, African American and non-white participants are required to show even lower performance on cognitive tests than the performance needed by their white counterparts.
For example, a non-white and white participant may score identical raw scores. Still, because of the race-norming methodology, the white participant may be considered to have a “moderate” impairment, while a non-white participant’s impairment may only be “mild.” Alternatively, the white participant may have “mild” impairment, while the non-white participant may be considered to have no impairment.
As a result of the race-norming methodology, African American and non-white participants were paid less under the Plans than their white counterparts.
Beasley Allen Attorneys Leon Hampton and Paul Evans are committed to assisting these players in requiring the NFL to correct its racist assumptions by ensuring that participants’ neurocognitive impairments are not based on race-norming methodologies, directly impacting the African American and non-white plan beneficiaries.
If you have any questions about our work related to the NFL’s Player Disability & Survivor Benefit Plan and the Player Disability & Neurocognitive Benefit Plan, please visit the Contact Us section on BeasleyAllen.com.