An Orlando Predators player is attempting to collecting workers’ compensation benefits after being involved in an injury during the course and scope of his work as a football player in the Arena Football League. His claim is heading to the Florida Supreme Court.
After the player’s injury, a dispute arose over whether the player was an employee of the Arena Football League. He was injured on the second day of practice. He had signed a contract to play for the Orlando Predators team. The contract had been signed by the team’s coach, but was not yet signed by the league office. The league is arguing that the players of each team are employed by the league itself and not the individual teams. It argues that the contract for hire was not completed until the league signed off on it, and contends that because the contract was not completed, there was no employer/employee relationship between the player and the league.
The lower courts have held that because there was no agreement between the AFL and the player as evidenced by the league’s failure to sign the contract, there was no valid employment contract. The court noted that a contract for hire was not a requirement to form an employer/employee relationship, but noted suggested that when there is a contractual relationship, mutual assent to the contract is required. In this case, the court reasoned that the AFL only consented to allow the player to tryout for the team and that there was no guarantee that Claimant would become employed by the league.
This claim will be interesting to watch to see if the unsigned contract will truly doom the AFL’s player’s claim.