Minor League Baseball Players Seek Minimum Wage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

The average major league baseball salary in 2019 is $4.36 million.  Mike Trout of the California Angels recently signed a 12-year contract worth $426,500,000. 

On the other side of the spectrum are minor league baseball players.  While they are doing what they love, they have a brutally tough schedule and do not enjoy the perks of being a major league player.  Salaries of minor league baseball players are substantially lower than major league players.

The monthly minimum salary for minor league players is $1,100 at the rookie and Class A level and increases to $1,500 in Double-A and $2,150 in Triple-A.  While some players make more than the league minimum, many do not.

Plaintiffs in a California federal court lawsuit seek to improve the lives of minor league ballplayers.  This lawsuit seeks to require Major League Baseball and 22 of its 30 teams to pay back wages to thousands of current and former minor-league players. 

The Defendants are aggressively defending the case.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, has recently denied a request from the defendants to have the entire court hear their appeal and overturn an important ruling by a three-judge panel in August.  In that ruling, the court converted the lawsuit into a class-action covering players who worked in Florida and Arizona.  Importantly, all major league teams participate in spring training in these states.

The lawsuit on behalf of 45 plaintiffs argues that by paying minor league players less than an hourly minimum wage during the season, and not paying them at all during spring training, Major League Baseball and the 22 teams named in the lawsuit are violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and wage laws in individual states.

Major League Baseball counters that wage laws were not meant to cover professional athletes, whose workout, practice and game schedules do not fit neatly into an hourly format, and that the teams spend considerable sums to train the players to become major league players.

The lawsuit states that players are given housing and an allowance for some meals during spring training, but do not collect checks until they play during the regular season.  Many of these players do not make the major leagues and therefore are not paid at all for spring training. 

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.  Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour effective July 24, 2009. Overtime pay at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.   Many states also have minimum wage laws. In cases where an employee is subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher minimum wage.

Most businesses are required to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act or the Florida Civil Rights Act. In the event that you, either as the employer or the employee, have a dispute, this firm is equipped to provide legal representation involving that dispute.

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