Moving Your Infractions Case Along and Avoiding the Next One

In the nine years I served on the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions (COI), we processed roughly 120 major infractions cases. Most were handled through in-person hearings, but a few were handled on paper, through the summary disposition process.

To the extent university presidents and other institutional staff members felt bold enough to voice their complaints regarding the process, one of the most common was the time it took to resolve a case from the start of the investigation. That complaint was understandable and, in some cases, well deserved. The cloud that hangs over a school under investigation takes a toll on the institution and all the people involved.

On August 1, 2016, the NCAA reported some good news – the time it takes to process cases has been reduced, even with an increasing caseload.

The reasons stated for the improvement include more options available to process a case short of the costly and dramatic in-person hearing, different approaches taken by the NCAA enforcement staff, and a focus on not allowing cases to drag on.

My personal observation is that the current staff is more focused on what are considered to be the major violations and supporting proof and more determined to avoid prolonging cases based on “what else might be out there.” Everyone in this line of work knows that on any campus, if you keep on digging, you’ll likely find more, although the additional violations may be nit. At some point, NCAA enforcement need to exercise discretion and good judgment and bring the investigative stage to a close based on diminishing returns. I have found in recent years that certain staff members would close investigative proceedings before they wind up finding just nit.

How can an institution move cases along and, of equal importance, make sure a first NCAA infractions case does not turn into a second a year or so down the road?

Many athletic compliance offices are thinly staffed, barely able to keep up with the day-to-day monitoring, educational, and reporting obligations.

If you get involved in an NCAA infractions case and the school receives a document-and-record request from the NCAA, make sure the athletic compliance office has all the help it needs collecting and responding to the document request while getting the regular, daily compliance job done.

This may mean temporary staffing help in the compliance office to handle the NCAA production schedule or interview schedule.

In my nine years on the COI, we had more than a few cases where the first major infractions case was followed by another only a year or two later. Ask the compliance officer at a hearing, “How did this happen?” Too often we heard the compliance office had insufficient staffing and resources to handle the burdens brought on by the first case while trying to run the compliance office. An additional investment of people and resources can help avoid being a two-timer in the process and can move the first case along.

When an NCAA investigation starts, the athletic director and general counsel should initiate a candid conversation with the athletic compliance office to see what help is needed and can be provided. Many eager compliance folks are reluctant to ask for help. A small additional investment of resources handling the first matter, however, will dwarf the costs of handling a second major case and may shorten the length of the first case.

 

MLB Looks For A Strike Out In Stadium Safety Case

Major League Baseball has asked a California federal court to dismiss a proposed class action claim that accuses the league of failing to sufficiently protect spectators with safety netting. Brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Gail Payne et al. v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball et al., 4:15-cv-03229, names the MLB, Commissioner Rob Manfred, and all 30 teams as defendants.

The plaintiffs argue that the defendants are engaging in negligence, misrepresentations, and exposing the spectators of the sport to personal injury  . The claim also states that the putative class is afraid for their safety and, as a result, cannot enjoy the games as much. The class points to a Ninth Circuit decision holding that fear or anxiety of future harm is enough to establish injury-in-fact.

Thus far, the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate standing to bring these claims because they are struggling to prove imminent danger of injury.

In response, MLB argued that the injury rate per ticket is far below one percent and, therefore, the chance of injury is extremely small. MLB argued that fear is not enough to establish standing because the putative class members have failed to demonstrate an imminent danger of injury. Additionally, all fans have the option to purchase seats behind foul ball nets or a seat that is not in the range of foul balls. Either way, MLB argued, the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a certain impending injury.

The issue of spectator safety at professional sporting events is not a new one for litigation. Previous litigation, however, has set the bar for spectator recovery for injury extremely high. For example, in 2002 a 13-year-old girl was struck and killed by a puck while attending a hockey game. Even in such an extreme case, the team and the NHL were not held liable for her injury or death.

Since fans at sporting events are aware that they could be injured, this knowledge generally absolves the teams, arenas, and leagues of any legal liability.

More often than not, arenas will announce prior to a game starting, provide warnings on tickets, and put up nets to warn spectators about errant balls, pucks, bats, and the like. It appears that so long as teams, arenas, and leagues continue to warn spectators, they will not be found liable for spectator injury anytime soon.

Georgia Court to Unseal USA Gymnastics Complaint Records, Testimony in Negligence Lawsuit

Saying the court would “err on the side of the sun,” Georgia Judge Ronald K. Thompson has granted the Indianapolis Star newspaper’s motion to unseal 54 sexual-abuse complaint files and 12 deposition transcripts related to a lawsuit filed by former gymnast Kelly Cutright against USA Gymnastics, the sport’s national governing body.

The Star, not a party to the lawsuit, filed a motion to intervene after it investigated allegations that USA Gymnastics executives perpetually failed to forward sexual-abuse allegations made by gymnasts to law enforcement authorities.

According to the Star, USA Gymnastics disregarded sexual-abuse complaints unless they were signed by the alleged victim or victim’s family and ignored any reports of alleged sexual-abuse filed by third parties.

USA Gymnastics vehemently opposed the newspaper’s motion, arguing that the Star did not have a right to intervene in the lawsuit under Georgia law, that there was no public interest in releasing the information, and that the privacy of its members and coaches would be violated irrevocably if the records were unsealed.

Judge Thompson disagreed with USA Gymnastics, however, ruling that all of the information “is of public interest” and that the court would “err on the side of the sun.”

Cutright alleged that USA Gymnastics was negligent because it ignored four previous sexual-abuse complaints about her coach, which resulted in him abusing Cutright in 1999. Cutright supported the Star’s motion to unseal the records.

Judge Thompson said he will review the complaint files and depositions prior to unsealing them to ensure that sensitive information about alleged victims or their families is not inadvertently produced. Additionally, he said that victim names, medical records, and names of coaches who were not convicted of a crime also will be redacted to protect the privacy of innocent parties.

The records are scheduled to be unsealed by September 30, 2016. USA Gymnastics has indicated that it intends to appeal Judge Thompson’s ruling, which could delay or prevent their release.

 

Court Dismisses NCAA from Lawsuit Related to UNC’s Academic Fraud Scandal

District Court Judge Loretta Biggs has dismissed the NCAA from the putative class action filed by former UNC-Chapel Hill women’s basketball player Rashanda McCants and former UNC football player Devon Ramsay alleging state law claims against the NCAA and UNC. McCants, et al. v. NCAA, et al., No. 1:15-cv-176 (M.D. N.C. Aug. 12, 2016).

The plaintiffs asserted claims of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty against the NCAA, alleging that from 1989 to 2011, UNC enrolled students in the African and Afro-American Studies Department (“AFAM”) independent studies classes that involved no instruction or no faculty supervision and required no class attendance. Student-athletes accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of enrollments in these classes.

The plaintiffs alleged that the NCAA:

  1. “voluntarily assumed a duty to protect the education and educational opportunities of student-athletes (including the provision of academically sound courses) participating in NCAA-sponsored athletic programs at NCAA member institutions”; and
  2.  “voluntarily assumed a fiduciary duty — which includes duties of loyalty, cooperation, honesty, good faith and fair dealing, and the     exercise of due care — to protect the education and educational opportunities of student-athletes (including the provision of academically sound courses) participating in NCAA-sponsored athletic programs at NCAA member institutions.”

The NCAA argued the plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged that it has assumed such a duty to protect or the existence of a fiduciary relationship or a fiduciary duty between them and the NCAA. The court agreed with the NCAA.

With respect to the negligence claim, Plaintiffs alleged that the NCAA has a duty of reasonable care in safeguarding the provision of “academically sound classes” at UNC the court found the plaintiffs’ 259-paragraph, 100-page complaint contained “generalized, sweeping assertions.” The court said, “public statements by NCAA officials, as well as general, gratuitous statements contained in NCAA governing documents and on its website . . . are insufficient as a matter of law to support imposition of a legal duty upon the NCAA premised on the voluntary undertaking doctrine under North Carolina law.” Similarly, “Plaintiffs’ reliance on the NCAA’s adoption of rules and regulations, including the administration of its eligibility requirements, fails as a matter of law to support Plaintiffs’ claim that the NCAA assumed a duty to ensure the ‘academic soundness’ of classes offered at UNC-Chapel Hill.”

With respect to the breach of fiduciary duty claim, the court stated,

“The breadth of [Plaintiffs’] allegations would seem to suggest that Plaintiffs seek to impose a fiduciary duty on the NCAA to safeguard the ‘academic soundness’ of classes to the ‘more than 170,000 college athletes [that] compete in [Division I] NCAA-sanctioned sports each year.’”

North Carolina courts have consistently declined to recognize a fiduciary relationship in the academic setting, such as between a university and its students, and the court found no basis to conclude the NCAA assume such a duty in this case.

The court “recognized that the public has a strong interest in the myriad of policy concerns surrounding the NCAA’s role in intercollegiate athletics and in connection with the alleged academic improprieties that took place at UNC Chapel Hill; however, the scope of [its] authority is limited to a determination of whether Plaintiffs have alleged a plausible claim for relief against the NCAA under North Carolina law.” The court concluded the plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to state a plausible claim against the NCAA based on either negligence or breach of fiduciary duty.

Claims against UNC remain, but are stayed pending resolution of whether UNC can assert sovereign immunity.

 

 

NFL Commissioner’s Powers Affirmed in Eighth Circuit Ruling on Peterson Suspension

NFL-appointed Arbitrator Harold Henderson’s decision to uphold Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for alleged child abuse was proper, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has ruled. NFL Players Association v. National Football League et al., No. 15-1438 (8th Cir. Aug. 4, 2016).

The decision marks a further affirmation of Commissioner Goodell’s authority and almost unlimited power to discipline players pursuant to the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement between the League and its players association.

As Boston College Law Professor Warren K. Zola commented, “The power of the NFL commissioner strengthens as 8th Circuit determines ‘fundamental fairness’ is subordinate to collective bargaining.”

The Eighth Circuit’s decision overturned U.S. District Judge David Doty’s February 2015 decision vacating Arbitrator Henderson’s decision to uphold Goodell’s suspension of Peterson for the remainder of the 2014 season after Peterson pled no contest to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault child abuse charges in November of that year.

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) had filed a grievance against the NFL on Peterson’s behalf following the suspension, asserting that Peterson should have been disciplined under the League’s prior conduct policy, which authorized only a maximum two-game suspension. Goodell’s appointed arbitrator rejected that argument and upheld the suspension.

The NFLPA had argued before the Eighth Circuit that Judge Doty had properly ruled that the League misapplied a domestic abuse policy enacted after Peterson’s alleged wrongful conduct in violation of the League’s collective bargaining agreement. A three-judge Eighth Circuit panel disagreed, reversing Judge Doty’s decision and concluding the district court had improperly vacated Arbitrator Henderson’s decision upholding the suspension.

The Eighth Circuit stated,

“We conclude that the parties bargained to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator, and the arbitrator acted within his authority, so we reverse the district court’s judgement vacating the arbitration decision.”

 

 

 

 

NFL and Players Union Agree to New Game Day Concussion Protocol Enforcement Policy

In the latest efforts to improve player safety, the NFL and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) have announced an agreement to implement specific penalties for violations of the league’s game-day concussion protocol. The agreement calls for greater mandates on player protection and higher penalties for non-compliance.

Player concussions in the NFL increased by an alarming 32% during the 2015 season.

In one specific instance, it is alleged that the St. Louis Rams permitted quarterback Case Keenum to remain in the game despite Keenum having suffered a concussion and being unable to stand without assistance after being sacked in a 2015 contest against the Baltimore Ravens.

The new policy marks further collaboration between the league and the union regarding player health and safety. The concussion protocol policy adds to previously agreed upon sharing of injury data to see if specific game rules needed to be changed to improve player safety and the implementation of an infectious disease prevention and response program for all 32 teams.

As detailed in the joint announcement, the league and the players association will each choose one representative to monitor compliance with the game-day concussion protocol and investigate possible violations. If a potential violation takes place, the representatives will conduct an investigation to determine whether the protocol was followed. The NFL and NFLPA then will review the findings to determine if a violation occurred and, if one had occurred, recommend a disciplinary response. If the NFL and NFLPA are unable to reach an agreement, a third-party arbitrator will issue a report to Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, and the involved parties.

Although the NFL and NFLPA may recommend disciplinary action, Commissioner Goodell will retain absolute discretion to determine the extent of any disciplinary action against the violating team(s).

The potential for disciplinary action and substantial fines show that both parties are serious about following previously established game-day concussion protocol. Any team that violates the protocol can be penalized as follows:

  • A first violation requires team employees or medical team members to attend remedial education; and/or result in a maximum fine of $150,000 against the team;
  • Second and subsequent violations will result in a minimum fine of $100,000;
  • If the parties agree that the violation involved aggravating circumstances, the team shall be subject, in the first instance, to a fine of no less than $50,000. The Commissioner retains authority to determine appropriate discipline for subsequent violations involving aggravating circumstances; and
  • If the Commissioner determines that the violating team’s medical team failed to follow the game-day concussion protocol for competitive reasons, the Commissioner may require the team to forfeit draft pick(s) and impose additional fines.

The new enforcement policy builds on the NFL’s previous efforts to address concussion-related issues and creates repercussions for teams that attempt to skirt the game-day concussion protocol. The new policy provides Commissioner Goodell with significant authority to impose penalties on violating teams.

While players such as Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, and Ray Rice have challenged the Commissioner’s power under the collective bargaining agreement, it will be worth watching whether penalized teams will raise similar complaints and challenges to the Commissioner’s ultimate authority and unlimited power once the new enforcement policy is implemented.

 

…And The Judge Taketh Away: Minor League Baseball Players Strike Out In Bid To Have FLSA, State Wage Claims Against MLB Certified As Collective And Class Actions

A federal Magistrate judge in San Francisco has sided with Major League Baseball against former minor league players in an effort to have their lawsuit claiming minimum wage and overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act certified as a collective action and their state wage and hour claims certified as a class action.

Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California had conditionally certified the plaintiffs’ proposed collective action under the FLSA on October 20, 2015.

However, in his latest ruling, the Judge granted MLB’s motion to decertify the collective of former minor league baseball players against MLB, the Commissioner, and several MLB franchises alleging they were not paid the minimum wage and overtime  in violation of the FLSA.

The Judge also denied the plaintiffs’ request to certify their state law wage and hour claims as a class action. Senne, et al. v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp., et al, Case No. 14-CV-00608-JCS (July 21, 2016).

The decision has been heralded as a significant victory for MLB.

Insofar as they involve groups of plaintiffs joining together in a lawsuit, collective actions and class actions are quite similar. However, there are differences. The most important is that plaintiffs who want to be involved in a collective action must “opt in” , whereas individuals covered by a class action must “opt out” to avoid being bound by any judgment.

The plaintiffs in Senne contended that MLB and its clubs violated the FLSA, as well as similar state wage and hour laws, by paying them a total of only $3000-$7000 over a five-month season, despite their working from 50 to 70 hours per week. The former players also alleged the franchises have been paying them less than minimum wage, denying them overtime pay, and requiring them to train during the off-season without pay.

In his July 21, 2016 Order, the Magistrate Judge denied plaintiffs’ motion that their state wage and hour claims be certified as a class action for failing to meet certain legal requirements. He found that (1) there would be no simple way to determine who is a member of the class in each of the states; (2) plaintiffs had not demonstrated that the “typicality” requirement was met because the court could not determine whether the proposed class representatives for each state class collectively had presented claims that were typical of the class; and (3) the common questions raised by the state law claims did not predominate over individual issues – those individual issues “will overwhelm the common questions…and … the class mechanism is not superior because adjudicating plaintiffs’ claims on a classwide basis will not be manageable.”  So, even though he found there were a sufficient number of plaintiffs to meet the “numerosity” requirement; the existence of shared legal issues met the “commonality” requirement; and the class representatives could “fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class,” he refused to certify the class.

On October 20, 2015, the Magistrate Judge granted (on a conditional basis) the former minor league players’ request to certify their proposed collective — all minor league players who worked for the MLB or any MLB franchise since February 7, 2011, but who had not spent time in the major leagues at the time of performing work as a minor leaguer — under the FLSA. However, on July 21, 2016, after additional evidence relevant to the maintenance of a collective action had been gathered, Magistrate Judge Spero decertified it, using a similar analysis to that which he applied to the class action question.

The Judge found that the plaintiffs were not “similarly situated” because of “disparate factual and employment settings of the class members [that] make collective adjudication of Plaintiffs’ FLSA claims unmanageable and potentially unfair to Defendants.”

It is likely the minor league players will appeal the Magistrate Judge’s Order. However, if the Order stands, it will be much more difficult for the minor league players to pressure MLB to change its pay practices. Minor league players will have to sue individually, but even if they prevail, the resulting damages may not be enough to sway MLB to make changes.

University of Tennessee Settles Title IX Lawsuit For $2.48 Million

The University of Tennessee announced on July 5, 2016, that it had settled a Title IX lawsuit filed against it by eight female plaintiffs for $2.48 million. The women alleged that the University fostered a culture of indifference by ignoring sexual assaults committed by athletes, which, in turn, created a hostile environment for females on the 27,845-student campus.

The civil suit, filed on February 9, 2016, included allegations dating back to 1995. The Complaint asserts that the plaintiffs sustained damages as a result of the University’s deliberate indifference to actions before and unreasonable responses after the rapes of female students by four athletes and one non-athlete, in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs claimed that the University directly supported a student-athlete environment that encouraged underage drinking, drug use and rape, interfered with the disciplinary process in favor of male athletes charged with sexual assault, failed to promptly investigate and remediate allegations of sexual assault on campus, and discriminated against victims of sexual assault by one-sided misuse of the Tennessee Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

Notably, the plaintiffs attacked the University for its alleged inaction despite what they claimed was notice of a harassing and violent atmosphere, as well as its response to the students’ complaints. The plaintiffs sought both monetary and injunctive relief.

The University asserted that settlement discussions have been ongoing since the Complaint was initially filed, and that current negotiations began in April. With respect to payment of the settlement, no taxpayer dollars, donor funds, student tuition, or fees will be used; rather, the University’s Athletics Department and Central Administration will split equally the payment of the settlement.

Following news of the settlement, the plaintiffs’ attorney reflected that in the wake of the litigation, he believed the University made significant progress in the way it educated staff and the student body about sexual assaults and responded to such allegations. Similarly, counsel and head officials for the University of Tennessee indicated that, while the settlement was in no way an admission of guilt or liability, the University took the complaints seriously and intends to address aggressively future sexual assault incidents.

In fact, new initiatives aimed at combating and responding to sexual assault are being introduced and increased funding will be allocated to issues such as handling sexual assaults, student conduct, educational programming, and student well-being.

In addition, Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee system, announced that he plans to appoint an independent commission to review and make recommendations to existing programs relating to Title IX issues.

This settlement adds to a growing list of large universities that, in the past couple of years, have similarly settled lawsuits alleging Title IX violations.

 

NFL v. Brady: Headed for the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York has denied New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s petition for a hearing en banc over his suspension for allegedly taking part in a plot to deflate footballs. As Patriots fans prepare for the first four games of the 2016 season without their perennial All-Pro leader, Brady has one remaining “Hail Mary” maneuver at his disposal before his suspension becomes unalterable: petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the Second Circuit’s decision and effectively hold Brady’s suspension in abeyance until the Supreme Court decides whether to grant review of the entire Brady case. Brady must file his petition by October 13.

The 13 active judges of the Second Circuit found no legal basis to interfere with the 2-1 decision of the Circuit’s three-judge panel’s previous ruling in favor of the NFL upholding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s four-game suspension for Brady.

The decision reaffirmed the Commissioner’s unbridled powers under Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement as Commissioner of the NFL and concluded that Goodell’s decision as an arbitrator properly confirmed his prior decision to suspend Brady in his role as Commissioner.

The Second Circuit decision moves the NFL closer to concluding its lengthy legal battle with Brady regarding his alleged knowledge of the use of footballs with reduced air pressure for the AFC Championship Game in January 2015.

Procedurally, Brady must petition the Second Circuit to stay its own decision, which likely will be refused. Following this likely step by the Second Circuit, Brady’s next option is to apply to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a stay and to petition all of the justices for a writ of certiorari. Judge Ginsburg, as the designated justice to handle requests for stays in cases arising from the Second Circuit, alone has the power to accept or deny Brady’s request or ask the NFL to file a response to Brady’s request for a stay. Justice Ginsburg also may seek the input of the other seven justices. If Brady were granted a stay by Justice Ginsburg, all aspects of the cases would be on hold until the Supreme Court renders its decision on Brady’s petition seeking a full review by the court.

If a stay is granted, and if four of the justices grant Brady’s petition seeking certiorari, the case likely will not be heard until the spring of 2017…preserving Brady’s ability to play during the 2016 season.

Unfortunately for Brady and his quest to avoid a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season, his chances of being granted a stay or having his petition for certiorari granted are both long shots at best. In order for Brady to succeed in his efforts, his lawyers must argue successfully that a legal basis exists for the country’s highest court’s consideration and that he will suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not granted.

While Brady’s lawyers prepare his best legal arguments and he and his teammates prepare for the 2016 season, Brady’s position behind center on opening day is extremely doubtful.

Proposal in Congress Would Prevent Overtime Pay for Minor Leaguers

Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have introduced the Save America’s Pastime Act  (SAPA) to preserve the decades-old minor league pay structure which prevents players from receiving overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Bustos withdrew her support for the legislation almost immediately after its introduction following her constituency’s negative reaction, “several concerns about the bill have been brought to my attention that have led me to immediately withdraw my support of the legislation”). SAPA, proposed in response to a wage and hour class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 2,300 minor league players seeking compensation in accordance with the FLSA, would create a new FLSA exemption for minor league players and permit the current minor league pay structure to continue.

Currently, minor league players are paid a monthly salary and are deemed ineligible for overtime compensation by their employers.

The players in Senne v. Major League Baseball seek a declaratory judgment mandating that Major League Baseball (MLB), which pays the salaries of minor-league players, pay them in accordance with FLSA overtime provisions.

The suit also requests back pay for those retired players who were compensated below minimum wage.

The minor league players claim that some of them are paid as little as $3,000 to $7,500 per season, despite working 50-70 hours a week and being required to train year-round to maintain team-mandated conditioning levels. In addition, they are required to continually work on improving their skills, including during unpaid spring training. While many minor league players were former high-draft picks who received large signing bonuses and now are legitimate major league prospects, most work under minor league contracts paid by the major league affiliates of the minor league teams. Minor league players are not represented by the Major League Baseball Players Association, and therefore are not protected by the minimum salary mandated in the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement.

MLB argues that the players’ claims are moot because the nature of the players’ work is akin to a FLSA-exempted “seasonal apprenticeship” and that playing minor league baseball is not a primary occupation.

MLB also argues that the wage and hour laws were not intended to apply to professional athletes such as minor-league baseball players and that requiring baseball players to maintain time sheets and submit requests for overtime when they want extra-batting practice is both impractical and nonsensical.

Additionally, MLB asserts that the players should be forced to submit their disputes to arbitration, as stipulated in their contracts.

SAPA, aimed at minor-league baseball players, would exclude “any employee who has entered into a contract to play baseball at the minor league level” from the minimum wage and overtime protections of the FLSA. The bill also states that the fact that minor league players are excluded should not be read to imply that Major League players are themselves in fact covered by the minimum wages and overtime laws.

Backers of the proposed legislation argue that requiring MLB to comply with the federal and state wage and hour laws would mean awarding the players in Senne more than $100 million in back pay. The potential award could require minor league clubs to assist in the payment of their players, possibly forcing many of the smaller, less stable franchises into bankruptcy and eliminating jobs. Opponents of the legislation argue that minor league baseball has evolved and can no longer be characterized as an apprenticeship or a seasonal occupation and that federal wage and hour laws must apply.

We will continue to monitor the bill and the suit and report on significant developments.

 

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