Almost every little boy dreams of growing up to become a professional athlete of some sort. They are tempted by promises of fame, glory, and multi-million dollar contracts, but the reality for most athletes isn’t so sweet.
Although certain baseball players for the Major League Baseball (MLB) manage to make a very good living, those playing in the minor leagues allege they are getting paid less than minimum wage.
The wage and hour class action lawsuit initially named all thirty of the MLB franchise teams, but eight were dismissed. Now the lawsuit is alleging the other twenty-two franchise teams systematically denied minimum wage and overtime compensation to its minor league players. The lawsuit also alleges there are times when the minor league players are not paid at all for work required by their jobs.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines overtime as all time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week. The Act requires employers to compensate all hourly, nonexempt employees one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime worked.
But there are exceptions to the FLSA’s overtime laws. If an employee is paid an annual salary of at least $23,600 and can be considered either an administrative, executive, or professional employee, then she is not entitled to overtime compensation. Athletes would normally fit in the professional category, but if the baseball players were making less than minimum wage (as the class action lawsuit alleges) then it is possible the MLB was in violation of the FLSA.
In addition to the FLSA, each state has their own laws to regulate things like minimum wage and overtime. Depending on the relevant state law, a wage and hour lawsuit can file for claims under state law, as well as the FLSA. The current wage and hour class action lawsuit against the MLB alleges violations of both state and federal law.
The MLB sought to have the class action lawsuit dismissed, claiming no baseball team should have to face state-law claims related to minimum wage and overtime unless it specifically employed one of the named plaintiffs corresponding with the state the team is based in. The defendants argued none of the plaintiffs were considered employees of all eight states from which the wage and hour claims were derived, so they don’t have the authority to bring a class action of state-law claims against MLB.
U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Spero in California denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, pointing out there is at least one class member for each of the states in which the wage and hour claims are alleged. The judge also disagreed with the assertion that deferring the issue won’t be a legal burden to the defendants.
The judge has put the MLB’s objections on hold until the plaintiffs have been granted or denied class certification by the court. That decision, says Sero, will determine whether the plaintiffs’ state-law claims against the MLB are sufficient to warrant pursuing the matter in court.
Our Joliet, Bollingbrook and Wheaton wage and hour attorneys and unpaid overtime lawyers and attorneys are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
Nationwide Consumer Rights is based in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace. We represent clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at 630-333-0333 or through our online form.