US Baseball Class Actions

Summary

Over 7,000 Minor League baseball players employed by 30 Major League Baseball clubs in the United States are paid annually between US$3,300 and US$10,000. This research explores the effectiveness of two recent class actions in federal labour law and antitrust law to improve the wages of Minor League players.

Researchers

Project Background and Aims

Major League Baseball in the United States annually generates over US$10 billion in revenue. The average salary of a player in the Major Leagues is now US$4 million and some players can earn up to tens of millions of dollars per year. Then there is the treatment of lower level players of players contracted by Major League clubs that compete in the affiliated network of leagues in Minor League Baseball. These players are only paid for work during the championship season and not for spring training or off-season training. Monthly wages in these leagues range between US$1,100 at Class Rookie and US$2,150 at Class AAA. Wages at each Minor League classification are set by Major League Baseball and followed by all 30 Major League clubs. The Minor League wage system may both violate federal minimum wage law and antitrust law. In 2014 two class actions were initiated by retired Minor League players using these laws. Based on Major League Baseball’s non-statutory exemption from antitrust law, the Miranda antitrust law case was unsuccessful at trial in the United States District Court and on appeal to the United States Court of Appeal. The United States Supreme Court refused an application for certiorari. The Senne federal minimum wage case is yet to go to trial before the United States District Court and has been delayed by applications by the defendant clubs and an appeal by the plaintiff players to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the issue of certification of the class group. This research aims to determine whether Minor League players are able to access justice through the use of the two class actions. Justice will be assessed based on the rulings on procedural matters, the decisions of courts, legislation, precedent and the activities of Congress.

Methodology

This research uses doctrinal legal analysis by analysing proceedings in the two class actions involving Minor League baseball players. As the research involves examination of American cases and law, it is a comparative project.