Coyotes Subject of NLRB Complaints About Paying Employees, Union Busting

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2017

Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller (9) celebrates his goal with the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The National Labor Relations Board reportedly undertook two investigations into the NHL's Arizona Coyotes over the last 13 months.

Craig Harris of AZCentral.com reported the news Wednesday, noting the NLRB was "probing allegations the National Hockey League team spied on staff, engaged in union busting and fired two employees who raised concerns about pay, federal records say."

Harris detailed two cases, including one that has the Coyotes scheduled for a Jan. 9 hearing with an NLRB administrative-law judge.

The case is based on the claims of James Whitener, a former ticket salesman who said the team fired him for attempting to unionize and "asked employees to sign separation agreements that were 'overly broad and unlawful,'" per Harris.

Whitener reached a financial settlement with the Coyotes in September after he also said they didn't pay him overtime.

The other case Harris detailed involved an employee who said in 2016 "the Coyotes created an impression that employees were under surveillance, threatened staff if they engaged in union organizing, caused employees to sign overly broad and discriminatory severance agreements and fired the employee after she complained the Coyotes failed to properly pay staff."

The team and the employee reached a settlement in that case as well, although the Coyotes denied wrongdoing in each instance.

Harris pointed to financial concerns for the franchise, which apparently says it has never made a profit and lost more than $20 million a year over the past few seasons.

The struggles have extended to the ice this season, as Arizona is just 2-15-3 in the early going. The Coyotes' seven points are the lowest in the entire league.

Arizona hasn't made the playoffs since the 2011-12 season.