The NFL Lockout and Worker's Compensation

Although the NFL lockout  has drawn national attention, not much has been given to one of the sticking points between management and the players – worker’s compensation. Traditionally, retired players  have preferred to file worker’s compensation claims in California, which is allowed if they can show that they played a game in that state, even if their home team is not based in California.

Team owners want players to have to file worker’s compensation claims in the state where their team is based, which would likely mean a much shorter statute of limitations and more limited benefits. This issue has been brewing for some time, with hundreds of retired football players receiving worker’s compensation awards or settlements, as this 2010 New York Times article illustrates.

Whether players and management will be able to reach a deal that addresses this issue or not remains to be seen. In the meantime, though, Florida has passed a law that prevents employees, including professional athletes, from seeking worker’s compensation in other states if they are working there only temporarily. If the parties in the NFL dispute are unable to address this issue, it seems likely that other states may follow Florida’s lead.