MLB Settles With Minor League Baseball Players In Class-Action Lawsuit

Three Minor League Baseball players filed a class-action lawsuit against Major League Baseball on Feb. 7, 2014, claiming the league violated state and federal minimum wage laws.

A trial was scheduled to begin on June 1 in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Calif. Lawyers representing MLB argued that Minor League players do not deserve to be paid during Spring Training.

It was widely believed a trial would be damaging to the league, but one is no longer necessary as MLB and the Minor League players reached a preliminary settlement in the class action lawsuit, per Even Drellich of The Athletic:

“We are pleased to report that the parties have reached a settlement in principle in this over 8-year-old case, subject to court approval,” counsel for the players said in a statement. “We look forward to filing preliminary approval papers with the court and cannot comment further until then.”

A spokesperson for MLB declined comment.

Terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed in filings submitted in the case, but one report suggested the sides were discussing a possible payment in the $200 million range in recent weeks.

The plaintiffs have requested until July 11 to file the approval papers.

MLB and Minor League players have long been at odds over pay and benefits, but recently more pushback has been coming against the league and there has been increasing support from MLB players.

Additionally, in December 2021, a lawsuit was filed against the league, with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred named as a defendant, over the league’s antitrust exemption.

The basis of the lawsuit brought forth by the Weil, Gotshal & Manges firm on behalf of plaintiffs Staten Island Yankees, Tri-City Valley Cats, Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and Norwich Sea Unicorns stems from MLB taking control of Minor League teams and it resulting in contraction.

An advocacy group for Minor League players has also called on MLB to improve its housing plan.

Minor League Baseball players take step toward forming union

Minor League players typically aren’t paid during Spring Training, but many around the sport are looking to change that. More than 1,000 Minor League players signed a petition asking MLB to compensate them for their work in Spring Training.

MLB has argued in the past that Minor League players are seasonable employees, making them exempt from minimum wage laws. However, a federal ruling in March stated that Minor Leaguers are year-round employees and should be paid accordingly.

Several Minor Leaguers who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the petition is a step toward unionizing.

Unionization would go a long way for Minor League players, and specifically for Los Angeles Angels’ prospects as the team ranks near the bottom in their treatment of Minor Leaguers, according to Advocates for Minor Leaguers.

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