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Sterling Employment Law

Minor leaguers bring lawsuit over pay

Michigan baseball fans may have heard about a recent lawsuit filed against three Major League Baseball teams. In Feb. 2014, three minor league baseball players were in the process of bringing a combined lawsuit against the Marlins, the Giants, the Royals and the commissioner of Major League Baseball for claims that they were paid less than minimum wage for their services. The three baseball players say they received between $3,000 and $7,500 for full seasons of service, during which they worked over 50 hours a week. They claim they were paid less than minimum wage for the total amount of time they worked.

In the lawsuit, a player in the Marlins system, who received a $25,000 signing bonus and a scholarship fund, claims that team failed to fulfill both state and federal requirements for minimum wage. The players in the Giants and Royals organizations made similar claims about low pay in the minor leagues. A lawyer working with the plaintiffs suggested that minor league baseball players do not receive the same protections as major league players because they do not have a union.

Similar to other industries, baseball players in Michigan and other states are entitled to certain employee rights, including receiving fair compensation for work performed. Under the federal law, individuals in public and private sectors should receive a minimum of $7.25 in hourly pay and overtime compensation for any amount of hours over 40.

Employers are required by federal law to keep records of employees' work hours to ensure they are meeting federal and state requirements for minimum wage, and employers may receive criminal and civil fines for failing to follow wage laws. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act and a number of state employment laws, employees have the right to seek compensation from the companies for which they work for unpaid wages.

United States Department of Labor, "Employment Law Guide," Sept. 2009.

Source: ABC News, "Pro Sports Glamour? Minor Leaguers Say They Barely Get Paid", Susanna Kim , February 12, 2014

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