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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Pro Football Inc.
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioners)
Facts of the Case 

After their collective-bargaining agreement expired, the National Football League (NFL) -- a group of football clubs -- and the NFL Players Association -- a labor union -- began to negotiate a new contract. The NFL presented a plan that would permit each club to establish a "developmental squad" of substitute players, each of whom would be paid the same $1,000 weekly salary. The union disagreed. When the negotiations reached an impasse, the NFL unilaterally implemented the plan. A number of squad players brought an antitrust suit, claiming that the employers' plan unfairly restrained trade. The District Court awarded damages to the players, but the Court of Appeals reversed that decision.


Are several employers immune from a union anti-trust suit when these employers, bargaining together, unilaterally impose terms on the union if the collective bargaining process reaches an impasse?

Decision: 8 votes for Pro Football Inc., 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

Yes. In affirming the Court of Appeals decision, the Supreme Court held that federal labor laws protect professional football franchises from anti-trust actions brought by their players when those franchises unilaterally impose terms after the collective bargaining process breaks down. Labor laws stabilize, encourage, and protect the collective bargaining process. When that process breaks down, labor laws provide adequate remedies. Employee suits under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, by contrast, might undermine the integrity of collective bargaining and preempt unnecessarily the labor laws.

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BROWN v. PRO FOOTBALL INC.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
BROWN v. PRO FOOTBALL INC., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"BROWN v. PRO FOOTBALL INC.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,