• Erin Henderson Tackles the NY Jets with Wrongful Termination Suit
  • October 18, 2017 | Author: Joseph M. Hanna
  • Law Firm: Goldberg Segalla LLP - Chicago Office
  • Erin Henderson, former New York Jets linebacker, sued the Jets on Friday, September 29, 2017, alleging the team wrongfully terminated his employment because of his bipolar disorder. He is seeking punitive damages along with $3.3 million in compensatory damages — the amount of his unpaid 2016 salary plus his non-guaranteed 2017 salary.

    Henderson alleges the Jets placed him on the non-football injury (NFI) list on Oct. 22 without saying why, leading other teams to shy away from signing him, thinking it was related to previous alcohol problems and DWI convictions. He had been released by the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 after two DWI arrests, but played for the Jets in 2015 and 2016. The Jets declined its 2017 option on Henderson in February.

    The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement permits teams to withhold salary for players on the NFI list. Henderson’s attorney, Lawrence Lavigne, contends the Jets violated New Jersey law by never stating the reason Henderson was on the list. “Our argument is they did everything wrong, so they either destroyed a career by remaining silent or they wrongfully terminated him,” Lavigne said. His agent commented that Henderson feels the Jets “never had his back.”

    At an NFLPA grievance hearing last June, the Jets told Henderson he was unfit to play. Henderson’s team-proscribed medication for his bipolar disorder, Seroquel, allegedly left him sleepy, causing him to be late to meetings where he was accused by coaches and teammates of being hungover. Lavigne said Henderson had been late for a meeting about 10 days before being placed on the NFI list, and that Henderson had explained to a Jets official, “‘Look, I took these pills last night that your doctor gave me and I woke up a little later this morning.’” Henderson had also gotten into an argument with a fellow player at practice, and his agent speculated that the Jets did not want Henderson because first-round pick Darron Lee was ready to take his position.