With $185 million settlement with minor leaguers, MLB continues battle to save antitrust exemption

Major League Baseball has reached a $185 million settlement in a class action lawsuit with former Minor League players. This decision continues to show that the league will work feverishly to avoid the lifting of its antitrust exemption.

Filings in a California courtroom on Friday showed the lawsuit filed eight years ago had been settled. Of the $185 million, $120,197,300 will go to players, with the balance covering legal fees.

The court case saw former minor leaguers Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle file the class action lawsuit in 2014.

In a folder for playersthe case was exposed as to why the class action had merit.

“Through this collective exercise of power, MLB has suppressed minor leaguer salaries in violation of federal and state laws. Most minor leaguers make around $3,000 to $7,500 for all year although he regularly works over 50 hours a week (and sometimes 70 hours a week) during the championship season of around five months. They receive no overtime pay and are usually paid less than minimum wage during league season. »

The settlement now allows clubs to pay minor league players during spring training, extended spring training and instructional leagues held in Arizona and Florida.

As part of a statement from minor league advocates who have filed lawsuits to improve wages and conditions for minor league players, they have brought home a key battle line: the antitrust exemption.

“For decades, the thirty owners of Major League Baseball teams have openly conspired to underpay Minor League baseball players. Perhaps the most egregious aspect of the Minor League conspiracy – which is currently under investigation by Congress – is that players are required to provide between 6 and 9 months of free work each year. Today’s settlement announcement is an acknowledgment of this injustice and an important first step in addressing this.

Major League Baseball has enjoyed an antitrust exemption since 1922, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the league was an “affair of state” and not interstate commerce and therefore not subject to the Sherman Act. Since then, league teams have been crossing the United States and Canada throughout the season.

The league protected its rare antitrust exemption by reaching settlements, with the minor league case being the latest.

In 2016, the league settled a case in which fans sued the league for stalled games in the market. The settlement saw regional sports networks, as well as Comcast
and DirecTV, are offering streaming options for games on the market to avoid the case going to federal court in New York.

While Advocates For Minor Leaguers may ease the pressure with the settlement reached over salary, other lawsuits are still pending. When MLB took over Minor League Baseball and shut down a large number of teams, several owners who were evicted filed lawsuits. The Justice Department weighed in on the case, saying MLB’s antitrust exemption should be “nearly halted” given that the case centers on the minor leagues.

Regardless of these cases, further challenges to the league’s antitrust exemption are sure to continue.

As part of NCAA v. Alston who went all the way to the US Supreme Court in 2021, the SC
OTUS said in its decision that MLB’s antitrust exemption had been critically reviewed by the nation’s highest court. The Supreme Court of the United States “even acknowledged the criticisms of the decision [in 1922’s Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs “as “‘unrealistic’” and “‘inconsistent’” and “aberration[al].”

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Post expires at 7:23pm on Friday July 22nd, 2022