Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Minor League Baseball Players to Lose Minimum Wage

When you think of baseball players, you think of the famous ones, the ones on your favorite team, the ones who made baseball history. But you rarely think of the little guys -- those still in the minors, hustling and struggling to make it to the big league. These are the players at the center of both a class action lawsuit and recent legislation exempting them from minimum wage law protection.

Baseball Players Paid Peanuts

While we're used to hearing about million-dollar contracts signed by MLB players, you might be surprised to find that minor league players make as little as $1,100 a month (although they also get a whopping $25 per diem and a ballpark dinner after each game). Players also estimate that they work 50-60 hours per week. Because of this, three players filed a lawsuit four years ago claiming that Major League Baseball (major league teams employ the minor league players) was violating federal minimum wage and overtime laws.

Federal Minimum Wage Laws

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates minimum wage and overtime pay, among other things. For those who are covered by its provisions, it states that the minimum wage is $7.25 (as of April 2017), and that overtime pay must be at least one and one-half times the regular pay rate for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a week.

The New Law

The reason this conflict is in the news again is that Congress just passed, and the president signed, a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill on Friday. In relevant part, the "Save America's Pastime Act" exempts "any employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league's championship season (but not spring training or the offseason) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage ... for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities."

Proponents argue the provision is necessary so that minor leagues aren't forced to make cuts which could negatively impact the economies of local communities where they play. Opponents argue that this provision forces minor league players and their families to live below the poverty level so billionaire owners can save money.

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