Many children have big dreams of growing up to become a professional athlete and get paid millions of dollars to play their favorite sport. For baseball players, the best way to get into the major leagues is by playing in the minor leagues, which acts as a feeder system on which the major league clubs rely to get their newest star players.
But the minor league players don’t see anywhere near the amount of money the major league players make, despite the fact that they work just as hard as, if not harder than, those playing in the major leagues. According to a recent class action lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball (MLB) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB), minor league players allegedly worked more than 50 hours a week on a regular basis during the season, and yet some of them were paid as little as $1,100 per month.
The MLB insists the players don’t have a case – that the number of hours each player spent working varies too much to justify a class action lawsuit, and that baseball players don’t qualify as hourly workers under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The FLSA requires employers to pay all their workers a minimum hourly wage (currently set at $7.25 per hour) and to pay them one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week.
But the FLSA provides exceptions to the rule. Any employee who is paid a salary of at least $23,600 per year and fits into one of three categories laid out by the FLSA is not entitled to overtime compensation. One of those categories is the professional category, which is composed of workers who require a particular set of skills or level of education in order to perform their job. The professional category includes everything from doctors and lawyers to actors, musicians and, according to the MLB, professional baseball players.
Nevertheless, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero is allowing the plaintiffs to move forward with their claims. Despite having previously reversed a decision that would have allowed the players to move forward with their wage and hour claims, Spero decided to let the class action move forward once they had amended their claims to address his previous concerns.
But the MLB is still fighting the decision to certify the class of minor league baseball players and has already filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit Court to immediately appeal Judge Spero’s decision. If the class action is allowed to move forward, the MLB will be under a lot of pressure to settle the case outside of court. Trials can be unpredictable, no matter how certain attorneys may be that the law is on the side of their client, and a settlement is usually mutually agreeable for both parties because it eliminates the uncertainty they would have to face at trial.
Although settlement agreements usually include a provision in which the defendant denies all liability, they do carry a strong suspicion of liability and may require the MLB and MiLB to change the way they pay their minor league players.The Chicago overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against large retail chains such as Petsmart, Officemax, Staples, Smart & Final, Apple, Walgreen’s, CVS, Urban Outfitters, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Limited, Forever 21, Macy’s, Target, JC Penney’s, Lowes, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, TJ Max, Victoria’s Secret, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Home Depot, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, K Mart, J.C Penney, Walmart, Costco, PetSmart, REI, Office Depot and other retail chains for misclassifying employees as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, failing to pay for time spent on security checks, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at one of our offices near Northbrook, Waukegan and Aurora at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.