Major League Baseball Faces Class Action Suit From Minor League Players

A federal judge in California last week certified a class action suit brought by former minor league baseball players against Major League Baseball (MLB). At issue is the salary paid to players who never spend even one day in the majors and who can earn as little as $1,100 a month in the minor leagues.

The lawsuit, first filed in February 2014, claims that minor leaguers are not paid minimum wage or overtime even though they may work more than 50 hours a week during the baseball season.

For the owners’ part, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred spelled out the league’s position last year, according to Dealbreaker’s Jesse Spector:

Embarrassing as it is in an industry as lucrative as baseball that … minor leaguers only get paid at all during the regular season. Major League Baseball’s position has been that the minor leagues are, in Commissioner Rob Manfred’s words last year, “more like apprenticeship programs or artistic pursuits where there are explicit exceptions to the wage and hour requirements” of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The judge in the case threw out a previous attempt to certify a class because the players were also seeking payment for off-season training. The judge deemed the individual players’ experiences to be unique and, therefore, did not constitute a class. By limiting the demand for pay during the season, the players will get their day in court.

According to Law360, the certification order covers anyone who participated in California League, spring training, instructional leagues or extended spring training from February 7, 2011, and who hadn’t signed a Major League contract before that.

The case is referred to as Aaron Senne et al v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball et al. The case number in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is 3:14-cv-00608.