May 16, 2022 – MLB, Minor Leaguers Settle ‘Starvation’ Wages Class Action
With a June 1 trial date approaching, Major League Baseball has reached an agreement with minor league players to end nearly decade-old litigation over alleged wage and hour violations.
Legal publication Law360 shared on May 10 a letter in which counsel for MLB and the minor league plaintiffs informed the court that a settlement had been reached in principal and asked Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero for a deadline of July 11, 2022 by which to file a motion for preliminary approval of the deal.
The settlement, for which details are not yet available, tentatively ends litigation that began in 2014, when minor league players sued MLB over alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor statutes. The players alleged they were paid as little as $1,100 per month during a five-month season and next to nothing for postseason and off-season work.
Law360 relays that Judge Spero anticipated that the trial would have been lengthy and encouraged both sides to consider a bench trial, in which there is no jury and the judge decides on the matter.
ClassAction.org will update this page should details of the settlement be made available.
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Intervenor complaints have been filed by three current and former minor league baseball players who look to join as representatives long-running litigation alleging Major League Baseball has failed to pay minor leaguers lawful wages.
Former minor leaguer Aaron Dott and current minor leaguers Cody Sedlock and Kyle Johnson allege in the short complaints that they’re among scores of big league hopefuls who put in substantial spring training, fall league and off-season work with the minor league affiliates of MLB teams without receiving legally appropriate wages.
The intervenor complaints piggyback on to Senne et al. v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball et al., a sweeping case filed in February 2014 that alleges minor league players receive as little as $1,100 per month during the five-month regular season and no wages at all for spring training and fall instruction leagues, which, for all intents and purposes, are mandatory to attend.
According to Sedlock’s complaint, he has been in the Baltimore Orioles minor league system since 2016 and is a covered employee within the meaning of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws. Sedlock was selected by the Orioles in the 2016 Rule 4 draft and has worked since that summer for the team’s affiliates in Aberdeen and Frederick, Maryland and at the American League East team’s spring training site in Florida, per the complaint.
Sedlock says he routinely works more than 50 hours per week during the minor league season and has not earned a salary despite often working seven days per week during spring training in Florida, or for off-season work performed for the defendants.
“To summarize, Mr. Sedlock, like all Class Members working under the direction of MLB and its Franchises, works for less than minimum wage, receives no overtime pay despite routinely working overtime hours, and often works for no pay,” the player’s intervention complaint reads.
The second complaint relays Dott was with the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization from 2009 to 2011 and the New York Yankees from 2011 to 2015, while Johnson has been with the New York Mets since 2013 and previously worked in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Both allege they routinely work, or worked, more than 50 hours per week during the season and received no salary for work performed during spring training or the off-season.
All three intervenors say they received wages only during the minor league season. The two complaints relay that the intervenor plaintiffs adopt every allegation made in the main class action against MLB and the Office of the Commissioner.
In August 2019, a magistrate judge certified in Senne v. MLB a collective of minor leaguers under the FLSA and California Labor Law, and the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2020 denied MLB’s appeal of the certification of the class of approximately 6,000 non-unionized minor leaguers. A tentative trial date is set for June 2022.
The extensive legal warring is part of a much broader timeline of labor strife between players and ownership in the history of professional baseball in the United States. Most recently, MLB axed roughly a quarter of all affiliated minor league teams nationwide, erasing roughly 1,000 player jobs in the process, as part of a “forced restructuring” of the minor league system.
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