The class action lawsuit was filed back in 2014 by former minor leaguer Aaron Senne and two other retired minor league players. They claimed that MLB teams violated federal and state minimum-wage and overtime laws. The league attempted to dismiss the charges in late 2020 but the U.S. Supreme Court denied them. According to ABC News, the league avoided even greater potential damages through the settlement.
Congress passed a bill in March 2018 that exempted minor league players from federal minimum-wage and overtime laws, and some minor league players still receive salaries below the poverty line. The majority of the more than 5,000 players in the minor leagues make between $4,800 and $14,700 annually. In the past, minor league players were paid only during their season.
This settlement is seen as the first significant step in an ongoing effort by minor league players to improve their standards of living. One estimate is that 23,000 players could share the money with an average payment of $5,000 to $5,500, according the players’ damages expert. As part of the settlement, MLB will issue a memo that allows teams to pay minor league players during spring training, and extended spring training and instructional leagues in Florida and Arizona. Teams previously had been blocked from doing so.
Another step in the right direction is a new policy implemented by the MLB that mandates teams to cover lodging for players at home after they previously were responsible for it. And Senate Judiciary Committee leadership has inquired with Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a nonprofit group founded in 2020 by former players who are pushing for changes, about how MLB's antitrust exemption applies to minor league players. They said the settlement is an "important first step toward remedying" the conspiracy to underpay Minor League baseball players. "We will not be satisfied until Minor Leaguers have a seat at the table to negotiate fair wages and working conditions, as is the norm across professional sports," the group said.
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Pursuing a Dream
"This settlement is a monumental step for minor league players toward a fair and just compensation system," said plaintiffs’ attorney Garrett Broshuis. "As a former minor league baseball player, I've seen first-hand the financial struggle players face while earning poverty-level wages -- or no wages at all -- in pursuit of their major league dream. For the better part of a decade, it has been my honor to help lead this fight and to shine a light on the unfair labor practices that have long plagued America's pastime."