Should Minor League Baseball Players Be Paid Minimum Wage?

Last spring, over on our employment law portal, we discussed how there were a few minor league baseball players who filed a lawsuit in California over wage and overtime violations. Photo of earnings statement

Three former minor league players, Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle, filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig, the Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants, claiming that the defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The case has been consolidated with another similar lawsuit and is expected to go to trial in February 2017.

We bring the case up again because recently, due to the start of spring training, many media outlets are paying attention to the issue of pay in minor league baseball. Keep in mind, in the players’ lawsuit, they claim that most minor leaguers earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for a five-month season. Between training and travel, the players claim that they are being paid less than mandated minimum wages. The players say that they work between 60 and 70 hours per week.

Unlike MLB players, minor league players have no union and no collective bargaining agreement in place; although, MLB has an antitrust exemption, allowing owners to collude on all player salaries. “We’re aware of it,” Major League Baseball Players Association chief executive Tony Clark said when asked about the lawsuit, according to USA Today. “Having played in the minor leagues myself, I have an understanding as to what the concern is.”

Many MLB players, making millions of dollars, have come out in support of the minor league players. “If you make it [as a major league player], it’s great,” Curtis Granderson, one of the Mets’ union reps said, according to USA Today. “But at the same time, not everyone’s going to make it. And currently, while you’re in the minors, you’re not making it. We’re still performing a job, and with every job in the United States, you should at least get the minimum wage. That’s my side of it.”

I Have Experienced a Wage Issue

Remember, if you believe that you are being paid less than the state or federal minimum wage, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney. It should be noted that the FLSA requires that an employees’ pay cannot fall below the minimum wage and that employees are owed overtime pay of one-and-a-half times the regular pay rate when working in excess of 40 hours per week.

As this case shows, wage and overtime disputes can be incredibly complex. Speaking to someone with knowledge of labor law may be advisable in a situation where you have concerns about your wages. You may be able to pursue back pay, as well as damages.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys

Did You Know? The minimum wage in California is currently $9 an hour, although some municipalities have statutes for higher rates in place.