A former United States Olympic team soccer coach and world-renowned soccer player has filed a federal complaint against the owners of the Philadelphia Union professional soccer team, alleging he was wrongfully fired as Union head coach and team manager.
Piotr Nowak, who resides in Naples, Fla., filed for declaratory judgment July 20 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The civil action was filed by Philadelphia attorneys Clifford E. Haines and Hollie B. Knox.
The defendants named in the suit are Pennsylvania Professional Soccer LLC and Keystone Sports and Entertainment LLC.
The complaint states that Nowak entered into a contract with the Philadelphia Union back on June 1, 2009, to be its manager through Dec. 31, 2015.
On June 13 of this year, he was fired from his position.
“Despite its obligation to do so under the contract, Defendants have ceased paying Plaintiff, and demanded immediate repayment of a loan made by the Club to Mr. Nowak, causing Mr. Nowak immediate and material harm,” the complaint states.
The defendants have informed Nowak that they will not honor his contract and that unless he agrees to a “substantially reduced severance package,” the defendants will claim that he is being terminated for cause, the lawsuit states.
The suit seeks a federal judge to issue a declaratory judgment that the defendants have failed to satisfy the conditions precedent to any claim of termination for cause.
According to the complaint, the defendants in late December 2011 named Nowak the manager and executive vice president of soccer operations for the Philadelphia Union and extended his contract through Dec. 31, 2015.
In mid June of this year, Nowak was verbally informed that he was being terminated, the suit states.
Nowak was also provided with written options, the lawsuit states, such as signing a separation agreement and general release that would deem him immediately terminated, but that would have continued his salary through Dec. 31, 2012, or, if he refused to sign the agreement, a letter would be issued indicating that he was being terminated “for cause,” in which case he would receive no severance at all.
The defendants informed Nowak that if he didn’t sign the separation agreement by July 20, the day the lawsuit was filed, the letter terminating him for cause would be issued.
“Plaintiff notified defendants that he will not sign the Separation Agreement and General Release, creating a material dispute between the Parties,” the suit states.
The complaint alleges that the defendants have no good faith basis for their assertion for a “for cause” termination.
The suit seeks to have a judge declare that the defendants failed to act in good faith in determining that Nowak should be terminated for cause; declare that the defendants lacked the contractual right to terminate Nowak pursuant to his contract; declare that all other terms and conditions of the contract remain in force; and enjoin the defendants from taking further action to harm Nowak.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-04165-MAM.