The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that minor league baseball players in Arizona can sue for minimum wage under Arizona’s governing laws. The state’s minimum wage is currently $11 an hour, rising to $12 next Jan. 1.

mlb-seeks-exemption-from-FLSAFirst-year minor leaguers are forced to sign a contract that pays them $1,100 a month, excluding the four-week spring training camp that runs each year in February and March.

The Uniform Player’s Contract that all minor leaguers sign binds them for seven years unless they quit, get released or earn a spot on a major league roster. Salaries can rise, and many of the players get signing bonuses.

Judge Richard Paez, writing for the majority, said that the contract “strongly indicates” that participation in spring training is mandatory, even though the players are not paid. He also cited the use of post-season instructional leagues, where minor leaguers are often assigned for additional training — but again with no pay.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has long argued that their players are exempt from the wage and hour requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), citing the law’s “seasonal amusement” exemption.

The 9th Circuit Court has now given minor leaguers in Arizona the right to file a class action lawsuit seeking minimum wage and overtime redress.

The minimum wage in Arizona was approved by voters. Rep. T.J. Shope, R.-Coolidge, sought to legislatively amend the voter wage mandate, but the bill died amid questions whether the legislature had the power to alter voter-approved measures.