Major League Baseball has agreed to pay current and former minor league players $185 million to settle a federal class action lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws.
The settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Friday and is awaiting a judge’s approval, as is routine in such cases. It is considered one of the largest wage-and-time class action lawsuit settlements in history, with attorneys representing the minor leaguers in the case.
Once approved by Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, the settlement would mark the culmination of a nearly decade-long court process.
“This settlement is a monumental step for minor league players toward a fair and equitable compensation system,” Garrett Broshuis, one of the players’ attorneys and former minor league pitcher, said in a statement. “I’ve seen firsthand the financial struggles players face while earning poverty wages – or no pay at all – in pursuit of their major league dreams.”
The lawsuit was first filed in 2014 by first baseman/outfielder Aaron Senne, a 2009 Marlins 10th-round pick who retired in 2013, and two other retired players who had been Lower round picks: Kansas City infielder Michael Liberto and San Francisco pitcher Oliver Odle.
They alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state minimum wage and overtime requirements for a work week they estimated at 50 to 60 hours.
Just under $120,200,000 of the settlement is expected to be shared among around 23,000 players – with an average payout of around $5,000 to $5,500.
Nearly $56 million will go to the players’ attorneys and up to $5.5 million will cover the cost of the lawsuit’s reimbursement.
In addition, $450,000 will be for settlement administration costs, $637,000 will go to incentive awards for player representatives in the lawsuit, $400,000 for a contingency fund and $2,315,000 for payment under of the California Private Attorney General Act, which authorizes penalties for violations of state labor laws.
MLB’s legal team did not respond to requests for comment, but court records show it did not oppose approval of the settlement.
The league also agreed to rescind any ban on teams paying minor league players out of season as part of the settlement and pledged to issue a memorandum advising their clubs to pay minor leaguers. “in accordance with applicable wage and hour laws”. in Arizona and Florida during spring training, extended spring training, teaching leagues, and championship season in those states, including all minimum wage laws that apply,” state the court records.
In a statement to The Associated Press, MLB said the organization is “only in the second year of a major overhaul of the century-old player development system and has made great strides to improve the quality lives of minor league players.”
“We are proud that minor league players already receive significant benefits, including free housing, quality health care, multiple meals a day, tuition assistance for those wishing to continue their education and more $450 million in annual signing bonuses for first-year players. “, MLB said.
“We are pleased that we were able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution, but we are unable to comment on specifics until the agreement is formally approved by the court,” MLB said.
Associated press contributed.