Less than one week from Opening Day of the major league baseball season, Congress has passed legislation that will exempt minor league baseball players from the wage protections mandated under the federal Fair Labor Standard Act (“FLSA”). This means that Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball will not be required to pay their minor league baseball players a minimum wage, any overtime pay, or any compensation for spring training or during the off season.
The legislation will also likely put an end to a pending lawsuit brought by minor league players in which they are attempting to gain the legal wage protections available under the FLSA. The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by lead plaintiff and former minor leaguer, Aaron Senne, who argued on behalf of himself and other minor league baseball players, that Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball were violating the FLSA by not paying the players minimum wage and overtime pay. Most minor league players make less than $7,500 a season and work between 50-60 hours a week during the season without factoring in travel time. Minor league games take place six to seven days a week and require extensive travel for the players.
The FLSA requires that employers pay covered employees no less than $7.25 for every hour worked. Most states have similar minimum wage laws in place, such as New Jersey that has enacted the New Jersey Wage and Hour Act. The New Jersey Wage and Hour Act currently mandates employers pay eligible employees a minimum wage of $8.60 per hour. The FLSA also requires that employers pay covered employees overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. The New Jersey Wage and Hour law contains the same provision requiring employees provide eligible employees with overtime compensation.