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Minor League Baseball Players' Overtime Class Action Back in Play

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San Francisco, CAA California federal judge on Tuesday revived the class action status of a California overtime lawsuit filed by minor league baseball players against Major League Baseball.

The lawsuit Aaron Senne et al v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp., Case No. 14-cv-00608, US District Court, Northern District of California, filed in Feb. 2014, claimed that minor league baseball players earn only $3,000-$7,500 or less per season with some players earning just $1,100 per month during the season despite working more than 50 hours per week.

The lawsuit also alleged that players aren't paid overtime or compensated for spring training and other off-season work. More than 2,000 minor league players opted in after US Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero conditionally certified the lawsuit as a collective action in Oct. 2015.

Spero later decertified the Fair Labor Standards Act collective in July 2016 and denied the players' motion for class action certification, finding that the individual experiences and differences between the athletes were too different for them to move forward as a class.

Then in August, Spero directed the plaintiffs to narrow their class definition so the court could apply the same federal and state labor laws to the entire class. The players' revised definition included only the California League and spring training and instructional leagues in Arizona and Florida.

After reviewing the player's revision, Spero on March 7 issued a decision recertifying as a class the players filing suit who participated in the California League or Arizona or Florida spring training.

Judge Spero concluded that the plaintiffs had sufficiently narrowed the range of activities on which they base their class claims by removing claims for offsite winter conditioning and focusing instead on activities conducted primarily on a team basis.

The narrower class definition makes it possible for the court to determine the number of hours the players had to work during spring training and California League Games because it applies to an entire group rather than just individuals.

"The Court is now persuaded that the payroll records maintained by Defendants will allow any variations in compensation to be analyzed without burdensome individualized inquiries," wrote Judge Spero in his opinion.

Noting that the California Supreme Court has established that California has a strong interest in applying its wage and hour laws to work performed in California, even by non-residents, Judge Spero certified a class of all minor leaguers who played in a California league, instructional league or extended spring training on or after Feb. 7, 2011.

A case management conference for the class action is set for May 12.


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