Los Angeles Rams NFL team - Q. about MO and CA labor laws

So, the NFL Rams have decided to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles. They apparently prefer California to Missouri.

Well, mostly.

According to this NBC report, the Rams are trying to get their new player recruits to sign contracts stating that the laws of Missouri, and not those of California, will govern the relationship between the team and its players.

It will probably surprise no-one to learn that Missouri labor laws are more employer-friendly, and less generous to employees in areas like workers comp, than the laws of California.

The GQ here is not “Are NFL owners tone-deaf, selfish, greedy assholes?” :slight_smile:

The GQ is: would this clause actually be legally enforceable? That is, can you require an employee who will work (or play) for a team called the Los Angeles Rams, will train in Los Angeles, play half his games in Los Angeles, etc. etc., to work under the labor laws of Missouri?

Is there a way to legally make this work, for example, by having the company that actually owns the team remain in Missouri, even while the team itself is in California?

Are there, in such cases, any blanket rules covering how and where laws like workers comp function for people who work in more than one state? That is, if you work in multiple states, are you only covered by the workers comp laws of your company’s home state, or does your mere presence as an employee performing work duties in another state trigger coverage by the laws of that state?

I’ve read a few articles on this, and they all say that the NFL Players’ Association is telling its players and their agents not to agree to this clause. This suggests to me that they believe that the clause itself is actually legal and enforceable.

[P.S., if mods feel that this is better in The Game Room, feel free to move it. I figured, though, that while it’s about a sporting team, the principle might apply to other areas of work.]

As a general rule you cannot contract away your right to workers’ compensation benefits (for various reasons I won’t go into since there is probably a 1,000,000-character limit for posts). If a player gets injured in California they will be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits in accordance with CA law. This is probably not related to selecting the forum for workers’ compensation claims for that reason (and Mike Florio was probably not a WC lawyer and has no reason to know this).

However, assuming this is for other labor and employment purposes, it’s probably fine. It’s called a choice of law provision. The caveat is that there is no reason to uphold such a provision unless there is a reasonable nexus between the employer and the state law in question. So you and I can’t contract to have our disputes resolved in Alaska is nobody has ever been there. If the Rams’ holding company remains a Missouri corporation, though, the clause will probably be enforced.

For what it’s worth, Missouri workers’ compensation laws are relatively claimant-friendly (though not as compared to California).

Interesting, thanks.

If it is enforceable, it’s no surprise that the agents and the NFLPA are telling the players not to sign it.

On further reflection, it is possible that a California court would uphold the restriction because the NFL has a collective bargaining agreement in place. A CBA is generally the only way to contract away workers’ compensation rights like this, and the NFL CBA may specifically provide for a forum selection/choice of law provision like this.

Ah hah! California largely exempted professional sports teams from workers’ compensation laws in 2014. So NFL players will only be covered if they make the league minimum, and teams can opt out of CA workers’ compensation coverage.

The NFL CBA has this to say:

So if the club was “located” in California, the Rams would have to provide functionally equivalent benefits even though they are not actually covered by the workers’ compensation law. That’s why they are going with this contractual fiction that they are still in Missouri: because the actual workers’ compensation laws don’t apply, and this way they only have to provide Missouri-level benefits.

In other words, everything I said was wrong.

Hey, in the end you tracked down the definitive answer. Nicely done.

I guess it comes down to the interpretation of the word “located”? If the entire organization except for a nameplate and some incorporation papers, is located in California, including the CEO, front office staff, operations, etc. - how does that play out?

Thanks. And, well, sort of. There’s still the question of whether the required nexus between the employment and the State of Missouri exists.

The Rams’ website says that the team’s mailing address is still One Rams Way, St. Louis, but it also still refers to the team as the “St. Louis Rams” on that page. NFL team websites are famously uninformative about the teams’ corporate structures, but it does look like the team is still operating as a Missouri corporation (not sure if that link will work since it goes through a search engine but it’s the MO corporation listing for The Rams Football Company, Inc.).

That’s still a little thin to me. Most of my clients are large corporations headquartered outside Florida, but that doesn’t mean I get to argue that their employment relationships are governed by the laws of states other than Florida.

The “club” as defined in the CBA is “any entity that is a member of the NFL or operates a franchise in the NFL at any time during the term of this Agreement.” That suggests that the ownership group/holding company’s location controls rather than the location of the franchise itself. But I think you’d probably have to look at the NFL constitution and bylaws to see how the league governs the locations of its “clubs” amongst one another.

ETA: The Rams have apparently also now incorporated in California as entity number C3874482 (which they probably had to in order to conduct business there and enter into their stadium deal) so I guess we’re down to looking at where there front office is located.

Not the same thing, but at least 2 players (I am aware of) have successfully sued the Washington Redskins for MD Worker’s Compensation, after being denied initially because the Redskins required them to use VA law because their practice facilities were in VA. IIRC, The Redskins successfully (at least for awhile) argued that the player’s main job responsibilities were the practices and not the games.

Obviously, the “LA” Rams aren’t going to have their team remain in St. Louis for weekly practices and then fly to CA for “home” games. So, I have no idea how they thought this was going to fly.

Not Los Angeles- Inglewood.