A California federal district court judge ruled on July 13 that a lawsuit filed by a group of former minor league baseball players may proceed to the class certification stage. The former players are suing 22 Major League Baseball franchises for violating wage and hour laws. Although the franchises filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the motion was denied.
According to the plaintiffs, the MLB required them to work 50 to 70 hours per week over five-month seasons. For their time, the players were only compensated between $3,000 and $7,000. The players allege that the MLB violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying them minimum wage and overtime and requiring them to train without any compensation during the off-season.
It is unclear what defense strategy the MLB will use, but the organization might argue that its minor league players are working for a ‘seasonal amusement or recreational establishment” and are thus exempt. Establishments that operate no more than seven months out of the year are considered seasonal and are not required to follow the minimum wage and overtime guidelines in the FLSA. In the past, the Cincinnati Reds, the Detroit Tigers and a former minor league team all won lawsuits by claiming a seasonal exemption to the FLSA. However, the ruling in the Cincinnati Reds case was overruled by an appellate court.
Wage and hour law violations usually affect many employees at an establishment and not just one person. Those who believe that they have been denied minimum wage and overtime may want to speak with an attorney about the possibility of a class action lawsuit.