The Supreme Court is allowing a class-action lawsuit to proceed from minor league baseball players who allege they are being paid less than minimum wage.
The lawsuit involves minor league players in Arizona, California and Florida. The justices offered no comment Monday in rejecting Major League Baseball’s appeal.
The players first sued major league teams in February 2014, claiming most earn less than $7,500 annually in violation of several laws. A judge had initially allowed only the California players to sue, but the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled in favor of the players from Arizona and Florida.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to let the class certification decision stand is great news for minor league players,” said Korein Tillery LLC, the firm representing the players. “After almost four years on appeal, the players can now return to the trial court to ensure that Major League Baseball and team owners comply with minimum and overtime wage laws, a welcome development for minor leaguers in a very unusual year.”
The minor league season was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teams provided players $400 per week for most or all of the season anyway, a sum that represented a raise for many lower-level minor leaguers.
Major League Baseball plans to raise minor league salaries in 2021, pushing the minimum yearly salary for a full-season player at Class A from $5,800 to $10,000. The league is expected to shrink the minor leagues by as much as 25% after failing to renew its agreement last month with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.
“While Major League Baseball does not comment on ongoing litigation, MLB remains focused on modernizing its player development system to enhance the minor league experience for players, including providing them with renovated facilities, reduced travel, and improved daily working conditions,” MLB said in a statement Monday. “MLB had long planned to increase minor league player salaries as part of our next agreement with minor league clubs, and announced earlier this year that minor league players would be receiving salary increases ranging from 38% to 72% for the 2021 season.”