America’s Favorite Pastime – Litigation?


By: Frank Hupfl
While the rest of baseball reports to spring training in Florida and Arizona, three former minor league baseball players initiated an FLSA lawsuit against Major League Baseball in a California Federal Court last week.  In their Complaint, the players allege that the MLB violated the FLSA by failing to pay minimum wage and overtime to players for working more than 40 hours in a workweek.
In contrast to the high-dollar salaries and lucrative endorsement deals normally associated with professional athletes, minor league baseball players typically earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for a five-month season.  According to the plaintiffs’ Complaint, minor league players typically work more than 50 hours per week and are not paid at all for spring training, offseason instructional leagues, or the year-round conditioning work that teams require.  If true, the plaintiffs likely earned less than the federal minimum wage.  The MLB, on the other hand, is likely to argue that any compensation issue was negotiated and subject to the Minor League Uniform Player Contract that all players sign.  Further, the MLB may argue that the players are exempt under the FLSA.
The plaintiffs are currently seeking class-action status for their claims.  If successful, their suit could potentially involve thousands of minor league players and significant damages for the MLB.