MLB Buries Hatchet with Minor Leaguers

MLB Buries Another Hatchet With Minor League Players

Major League Baseball (MLB) and players in both the majors and the minors have a number of differences to settle.

They have made progress on some issues but not all. In some instances, it's similar to playing at the best online casino - there's no telling what the outcome will be. 

MLB and minor league players reached an agreement in a lawsuit claiming that teams had violated minimum wage laws. The court did not release the terms of the settlement when it announced the conclusion Tuesday. 

Two people who were familiar with the negotiations spoke to The Associated Press anonymously because they could not release details. They said that the parties had been in discussions about settling in the $200 million range in recent weeks.

Time To Look Forward

Lawyers for the players stated in a statement that they were pleased to announce that the parties reached a principle settlement in the case of over eight years. 

However, this will require court approval. Lawyers representing the players said after the verdict was reached, "We look forward to filing preliminary approval papers with the court and cannot comment further until then."

Aaron Senne, first baseman and outfielder and a 2010 10th-round pick by the Marlins, filed the suit in 2014. He retired in 2013 along with two other players who were lower-round selections, including Michael Liberto from Kansas City and Oliver Odle of San Francisco. 

They claimed they were in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as state overtime and minimum wage requirements for a workweek that was 50-60 hours.

A trial was scheduled to begin June 1 at the U.S. District Court, San Francisco. Lawyers for both sides filed a letter asking Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero for a postponement of a conference that was scheduled for Tuesday and for the trial.

Preliminary Settlement Finds Approval

The letter stated that the parties were happy to inform the court they had reached a settlement in principle. The parties reached a confidential, "memorandum d'entente." They are currently preparing the settlement documents, which must be ratified by each party. 

Clifford H. Pearson of Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, and Stephen M. Tillery, Korein Tillery signed the letter on behalf of MLB. 

Spero stated in a March pretrial ruling that minor leaguers were year-round employees who work during training. He also found MLB had violated Arizona's minimum wage law. He was, therefore, liable for three times the damages. 

Spero also found that MLB failed to comply with California's wage statement requirements and awarded $1,882,650 in damages. He suggested that minor leaguers be paid for travel to California League games and practice in Arizona and Florida.

Spero stated, "These are not students who have enrolled in a vocational school with the understanding that they would perform services, without compensation, as part of the practical training necessary to complete the training and obtain a license."

Long Fight Comes to an End

The District Court by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the District Court. That was in 2019, years after attorneys representing the MLB and players began arguing about whether it should be granted class-action status.

Spero stated that MLB is a joint employer of teams of minor league players. Therefore, they perform "work" during spring training and travel time on team buses is comparable under FLSA, Arizona and Florida law. In addition, California League players' travel time to away games is compensable under California law.

The players suing in 2017 were those with minor league contracts and who played in the California League for at least seven consecutive days beginning on February 7, 2010, or February 7, 2011, depending upon state or federal claims. 

They also included those who participated in spring training, extended-spring training instructional leagues in Arizona starting February 2011 and those who took part in spring training in Florida starting February 2009.

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