WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The union representing National Football League players on Tuesday said it had filed a grievance against the NFL over its policy requiring players to stand for the national anthem or wait in dressing rooms, saying it infringed on their rights.
FILE PHOTO: Washington Redskins tight end Niles Paul (84) and linebacker Ryan Anderson (52) and Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Carter (55) kneel with teammates during the playing of the national anthem before the game between the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, U.S., September 24, 2017. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
The NFL announced in May it would require any player who did not wish to stand during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” before games to stay off the field until the ceremony ended.
The protests, which began two seasons ago, were intended to call attention to what critics say is often brutal treatment of minorities by U.S. law enforcement.
Before the league announced the policy, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) had offered to discuss other ways to defuse tensions over the protests, which were prompted by a series of police killings of unarmed black men in Missouri, New York and other cities.
“The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights,” the NFLPA said on Twitter.
The NFL could not immediately be reached for comment.
A few players have knelt on one knee during the anthem, while others, including coaches and staff, have remained standing with locked arms and bowed heads in a show of solidarity with kneeling players.
The protests, and the NFL’s initial acceptance, have become a sensitive political issue largely because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of both the protests and the owners for tolerating them. Duri