Take Me Out to the Ballgame — Just Not at Minimum Wage

Major League Baseball (MLB), which last year got Congress to pass a measure exempting major leaguers from the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) during the regular season, is now lobbying Arizona legislators for equal protection from the law for spring training ballplayers.

mlb-seeks-exemption-from-FLSAThe federal law — dubbed Save America’s Pastime Act — was buried on page 1,967 of the 2,232-page spending bill Congress approved and President Trump signed this past spring. That bill also exempts MLB from all wage and related lawsuits not only in the present and future, but also from any originating from past events.

The key to the legislation is to exploit the “seasonal employee” exemption of the FLSA. Though it guarantees at least the minimum wage for each week of the regular season, it caps wages at 40 hours per week with no overtime available.

The lobbying of Arizona lawmakers is aimed at obtaining a copycat measure to exempt spring training ballplayers, along with any minor leaguers who play there all season long, from the state’s minimum wage ordinance.

One lawmaker, Representative T.J. Shope, did introduce such legislation, but it faces huge hurdles. For one, the current minimum wage structure was approved by voters in 2016, and voter measures cannot be changed unless they “further” the intent of the voters. Second, to exempt any group from overtime requires a three-quarters vote of the state legislature.

Garrett Broshuis, a former major leaguer and now a lawyer, is spearheading class action lawsuits against MLB in Arizona and Florida, the two states where spring training games are held. Typically, spring training requires daily “work” — whether it be practicing or playing in ballgames — running up the hourly total well past 40 in a week, and often past 8 hours in a day.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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