Minor League Players, MLB Reach Settlement in Minimum Wage Lawsuit
Nick Ferraro | June 9, 2022 | Wage and Hour
On May 10, 2022, attorneys for Major League Baseball (MLB) and minor league players filed a motion with the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, informing Judge Spero that both sides had reached a settlement in a lawsuit.
This lawsuit had originally been filed in 2014 and alleged that MLB violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Acts (FLSA) regarding minimum wage and overtime. The settlement represents eight years of legal action by both parties. If approved by the court, it will probably put an end to the case.
Details Still Secret
While both sides have agreed to a settlement, the details of the settlement have not yet been filed with the court. Anonymous parties familiar with the details informed the Associated Press that the settlement is roughly in the range of $200 million. Most likely, MLB will not admit to any fault as part of the settlement.
How the Lawsuit Started
The lawsuit began in 2014 when retired player Aaron Senne claimed that MLB had violated state minimum wage regulations and workweek overtime requirements. He was joined in the lawsuit by retired players Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle.
How the Lawsuit Has Progressed
In the eight years since the lawsuit was filed, the minor league players have been the recipients of multiple rulings friendly to their case. For example, on March 13, 2022, Judge Spero ruled that minor league players are year-round employees.
Judge Spero has also previously awarded almost $2 million in penalties to the players for violations of California wage statement requirements.
Based on statements the judge has made, it was apparent that he was inclined to side with the minor league players. He had already stated that they should be paid both for travel time and practice sessions. This suggested that MLB was unlikely to receive a positive ruling if the case went to trial on June 1st as originally scheduled.
What Delayed the Case So Long?
The main delay came from MLB. MLB spent years trying to be removed from the case or trying to argue that the case shouldn’t receive class-action status. Judge Spero eventually ruled that the MLB is a joint employer and that the case was eligible for class-action status.
These rulings finally allowed the case to go to trial and likely prompted MLB to settle with the litigants.
What This Means for the Future
Even though MLB is unlikely to admit culpability, this settlement basically ensures that minor league baseball players will be paid better in the future. Overtime hours for minor league players should also decrease.
The success of this lawsuit creates a template for future class-action labor lawsuits if MLB doesn’t start following state and federal law in the future.
Does This Affect All Minor League Baseball Players?
Some of the rulings are made under Florida, Arizona, and California state laws. While those rulings affect only players working in those states, many states have similar employment laws. Unless some players are working in a state with drastically different laws, these rulings could radiate to most players.
Other rulings, in this case, were made under the auspices of the FLSA. Those rulings are based on federal laws and apply equally to all players, regardless of what state they live in.