Antitrust Law - Nonstatutory Labor Exemption - Second Circuit Exempts NFL Eligibility Rules from Antitrust Scrutiny

Harvard Law Review, February 2005 | Go to article overview

Antitrust Law - Nonstatutory Labor Exemption - Second Circuit Exempts NFL Eligibility Rules from Antitrust Scrutiny


ANTITRUST LAW--NONSTATUTORY LABOR EXEMPTION--SECOND CIRCUIT EXEMPTS NFL ELIGIBILITY RULES FROM ANTITRUST SCRUTINY.--Clarett v. National Football League, 369 F.3d 124 (2d Cir. 2004).

Ratification of the Sherman Act initiated a trying period for the Supreme Court, which has since struggled with the intersection of labor law and antitrust law. (1) The conflict between the two areas of law is inherent: antitrust law promotes competition while labor law endorses activities that restrict it. (2) In certain circumstances, the Court has crowned labor law the champion of this contest (3) by immunizing certain union-employer agreements from antitrust scrutiny (4) through application of the "nonstatutory labor exemption," (5) which promotes the ability of "the association of employees to eliminate competition" with regard to some conditions of employment. (6) In Mackey v. National Football League, (7) the Eighth Circuit set forth a three-prong test for assessing the applicability of the exemption, which several other circuits have since adopted. (8) Recently, in Clarett v. National Football League, (9) the Second Circuit departed from this trend by registering its dissatisfaction with the Mackey standard (10) and ultimately applying a more open-ended standard of its own making. This new standard wisely allows for more flexibility in nonstatutory exemption analysis, particularly because it avoids a paramount weakness of the Mackey framework: namely, the Eighth Circuit's formulation making determinative the bona fide arm's-length negotiations requirement.

Following a strikingly successful freshman season, Maurice Clarett found his college football career cut short by his suspension from play the following year. (11) His options to play football limited, Clarett opted to seek eligibility for the 2004 National Football League (NFL) draft. (12) NFL rules require that "at least three full college seasons [after] high school graduation" (13) pass before a player may seek eligibility for the draft. (14) Clarett, whose December 2001 high school graduation rendered him ineligible, (15) challenged this restriction under the Sherman Act. (16) He contended that the rules constituted a "group boycott" (17) and an illegal restraint on trade, through which NFL teams agreed to exclude an otherwise able class of players from competing in the market for NFL player services. (18)

Prior to examining the merits of Clarett's antitrust claim, the district court considered the NFL's contention that the nonstatutory labor exemption should immunize its rules from antitrust scrutiny. (19) The court employed the three-prong Mackey test, under which the exemption is appropriate only when "the agreement sought to be exempted concerns a mandatory subject of collective bargaining"; "the restraint on trade primarily affects only the parties to the collective bargaining relationship"; and "the agreement ... is the product of bona fide arm's-length bargaining." (20) The court found that the NFL's rules failed all three prongs. First, because the rules did not refer to wages, hours, or conditions of employment, but instead made "a class of potential players unemployable," the court held that they did not address a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. (21) Second, the court found that the rules impermissibly affected persons, such as Clarett, who were excluded from the bargaining units. (22) Finally, the court found insufficient the NFL's evidence demonstrating that the eligibility rule was a subject of bona fide arm's-length bargaining because the players' union waived the right to bargain over the eligibility rules specifically, (23) and therefore the rules could not have arisen during the collective bargaining process. (24) Thus deeming the nonstatutory exemption inapplicable, (25) the court subsequently found that Clarett had standing to assert an antitrust claim (26) and held that the challenged restriction was an antitrust violation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Antitrust Law - Nonstatutory Labor Exemption - Second Circuit Exempts NFL Eligibility Rules from Antitrust Scrutiny
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.