COMMERCE CITY, CO - JUNE 04: Head coach Peter Nowak of the Philadelphia Union leaves the field after playing to a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on June 4, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Peter Nowak filed a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Union on July 20, contending that the team was still obligated to fulfill the salary requirements of his contract. First picked up upon by Jonathan Tannenwald on The Goalkeeper, Philly.com's soccer blog, the lawsuit claims that the plantiff, Nowak, is owed money for his firing, and that the Union have chosen to move forward with a ‘with cause' dismissal.
Clifford E. Haines, Esq, the founder of the law agency - Haines & Associates - that Nowak has employed, discussed the situation with the Brotherly Game and had the following to say.
On what the lawsuit is about:
"Obviously the Union have the right to determine who is on the field on any given day or who will manage the club on any given day. Mr. Nowak was under contract and the team is obligated to meet that contract. The purpose of the lawsuit is to really have a court to determine through a declarative judgment act is to decide whether or not the Union have followed the procedures that they must follow under the contract. They have issued complaints that allege what Peter has done and his contract enables him to cure whatever complaints they have about his performance."
On why a settlement could not be worked out:
"First of all, the Union stopped paying Peter back in June when they notified him when he was terminated. They made an offer to him to settle the dispute with him or they would terminate him for cause. Peter rejected their offer because it was woefully inadequate for what he was contracted to do and he has elected to challenge their right and their claim that they have the right to terminate.
Under normal circumstances, in sports, the parties are able to come to a satisfactory result over ending contracts or modifying contracts. That was not the end result here. We all know that people search the dockets and that this is one that would jump out at anybody. At some point someone was going to say, oh this was going to be something to write.
[Severance offer is] not a matter of public record. Until it is, I'd rather not get into it."
On what Nowak is trying to procure from the lawsuit:
"Peter's got a contract that runs until Dec 31, 2015. Under that contract the Union is obligated to pay him and honor the commitments it has made to him until that time. We don't contend that it is obligated to put him on the sidelines or control the team. They can remove him from that position. They can't say that we won't pay him anymore because of a disagreement with him.
[He's] seeking the value of the remainder of his contract. Peter is seeking the full value of his contract. That is what he is entitled to under the agreement until 2015. There is an agreement between the parties that there is a non-disparagement clause in his contract. It is an open question as to whether or not the Union have done damage to his future employment in soccer."
On the specifics of the Union's claims for a ‘with cause' dismissal:
"I'm not going to make any comments on specific comments on any claims that the Union have made
Those are all now going to come in the form of testimony in court in a deposition. If the Union's complaint has to do with water, that's a relatively easy problem to solve. You just tell Peter not to do it anymore and let's move on. That is a somewhat, I find that as an odd complaint."
On what the Union know so far:
"The lawsuit [was] filed in federal court on Friday here in Philadelphia. The court issues certain documents that we have to serve on the Union, we have not done so yet. The lawyers that represent them in Chicago have been told that we intend to take this route. The court won't decide on a date until they hear that the Union have read over the lawsuit."
The Union did not respond to requests to comment on this article.