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Minor Leaguers’ Lawsuit Over Pay Allowed to Proceed, Supreme Court Says

— October 8, 2020

The Supreme Court recently agreed to grant a handful of minor-league baseball players class-action status in a lawsuit they are filing against Major League Baseball.

Earlier this week, minor-league baseball players celebrated after they were granted class-action status in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied the “MLB’s appeal of a previous ruling that granted class-action status to a group of 29 players currently suing Major League Baseball for violation of minimum-wage laws.” If the appeal had been granted, “players would have had to individually bring their cases against MLB” and the process would have been much more lengthy and cumbersome. 

Baseball. Image via Pxhere. Claimed as public domain.

According to representatives of the minor-league players, “most of whom were never able to reap the benefits of a full-scale major league salary, individual lawsuits simply wouldn’t be financially viable,” especially against a giant like MLB.

Now that class-action status has been granted, it’s expected that many more players will join the players already named in the suit. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America noted that the number of class-action members could “grow to include potentially evert minor-league player who participated in the system since Feb. 7, 2009.” She added:

“It potentially includes almost every affiliated minor-league baseball player of the past decade. With more than 6,000 players participating in minor-league baseball in a normal year, the number of eligible players could be measured in tens of thousands.”

At the moment, the case is expected to go to trial sometime during 2021. When commenting on the case, lead attorney, Garrett Drellich, who happens to be a former minor-leaguer himself, said:

“…it’s important to keep in mind that these players are workers and just like all other workers across the country, they deserve to have the benefits of our minimum wage laws. And it’s important for players to be able to band together and pursue that collectively. And so this case is a recognition that the players have the right to do that, and hopefully, sometime soon players will be treated with the respect that they deserve and will at some point finally be paid wages that will allow them to live at levels above the poverty level.”

When responding to the suit, Major League Baseball issued the following statement: 

“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 has 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 percent to 72 percent for the 2021 season.”


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