After the Panthers hired Frank Reich to be the team’s next head coach, the attorney representing former interim head coach Steve Wilkes strongly indicated that the Panthers It will be added to pending litigation against the NFL and multiple teams due to racial discrimination in its hiring practices.
For Wilkes, the argument would be that racial bias infected the process and that the Panthers turned away from Wilkes at least in part due to the fact that he sued the Cardinals for racial discrimination.
That’s a fact that will become problematic in the inevitable discovery process once Wilkes adds the Panthers as a defendant: As of January 8, roughly 90 minutes after the team’s regular season ended, Reich’s daughter announced that she was officially a regular. Cheetah employee.
There is nothing wrong with that fact, in isolation. Nepotism is already rampant in the NFL. And it wouldn’t even have been nepotism if Reich had not been the coach when she was hired.
That said, Wilkes and his attorneys will want to explore whether, and to what extent, it was known that Frank Reich was destined to become the head coach when his daughter was offered and/or accepted the job. Was it a done deal? The realityThat the Panthers were hiring Frank Reich to be coach when the Panthers hired Reich’s daughter?
It will require careful review of the electronic paper trail (emails, transcripts, etc.) along with questioning of those involved in the process. The argument would be, if the facts supported the idea that he was Reich the whole time, then the interview process was sham.
This is one of the major themes of the entire litigation, that compliance with the Rooney Rule occurs simply as a matter of routine box-checking, and as a result the worthless and pointless interviews occur at a time when the landlord already knows what the landlord plans to do.
This is what makes the employment of Reich’s daughter relevant. When she was offered the job, did the team already know that Reich would be the next coach?
If the answer is no, then this is just another issue that has been explored as part of a lawsuit. If the answer is yes, then whatever claim Wilkes might make against the Panthers suddenly becomes stronger.
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