Court Upholds Judgment Against Former Union Coach Piotr Nowak
The Philadelphia Union’s first-ever coach has lost his wrongful termination suit against the soccer club.
Piotr Nowak led the Union from 2010 to 2012 — he took the club to its only playoff spot in its second season — before being fired in June 2012, after which stories emerged that he had allegedly mistreated players, hazed them and withheld water from them even during activities on hot days, and that he had broken other team rules. The club used that evidence to say Nowak was fired “for cause,” and thus not owed any compensation under his contract, which otherwise ran to 2015.
An arbitrator in the case, Margaret Brogan, had already ruled in the club’s favor. A federal district court last month affirmed the decision.
Nowak had asked that the arbitrator’s decision be set aside, saying Brogan “improperly relied on unauthenticated hearsay statements … in concluding Nowak subjected players, including some injured players, to dangerous conditions by being forced on a ten-mile run without proper hydration.”
The court was skeptical of Nowak’s challenge.
“As Arbitrator Brogan observed, Nowak admitted he denied players access to water during a training run over team trainers’ objections, and ‘never denied’ he called players who complained of concussion symptoms ‘pussies’ or ‘weak,'” Judge Mark Kearney wrote. “Arbitrator Brogan’s conclusion Nowak threatened Philadelphia Union players’ health and safety by these acts is adequately supported by ample record evidence.”
The court also rejected Nowak’s challenges to Brogan’s impartiality, and noted that federal law required courts to give ample deference to arbitrators in such matters. Nowak, Kearney wrote, didn’t offer enough evidence to overcome that presumption in the arbitrator’s favor.
Kearney made his ruling January 11th. It was reported last week by the Penn Record, a legal publication. Nowak is now the manager of Lechia Gdańsk, a club in his native Poland.
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