According to ESPN, a federal appellate court upheld a ruling which dismissed a lawsuit filed by minor league baseball players accusing Major League Baseball of colluding to suppress wages.
The ninth district court ruled that minor league baseball – like the majors – are exempt from federal antitrust laws.
Lead plaintiff and former Miami Marlins farmhand Aaron Senne filed the suit against all 30 MLB teams, alleging they pay less than minimum wage. He sought to certify his lawsuit as a class-action, which would have allowed any and all MiLB players to join. U.S magistrate judge Joseph Spero said the off-season workouts and nonuniform standards cannot be broadly regulated by federal wage and labor laws.
However, Spero certified the lawsuit in March after some claims were dropped and new evidence emerged, according to Ballpark Digest. Spero also narrowed the scope and proceedings of the case as well.
The lawsuit’s focus is now on the state of California. Players participating in Florida and Arizona instructional and summer leagues will be excluded. One swaying claim in the judge’s decision was the abandonment of claims for unpaid winter conditioning. Spero said the claim is problematic because the work performed spanned multiple years and was also largely undocumented.
“Considering the case law and the Curt Flood Act, it is undeniably true that minor league baseball — particularly the employment of minor league baseball players and the requirement that they sign a uniform contract containing a reserve clause — falls squarely within baseball’s exemption from federal antitrust laws,” Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote in the opinion.
This is not the first time MiLB has sued it’s big-league partner. In 2015, minor leaguers filed the same lawsuit, citing MLB’s employment policies violate antitrust laws by restraining horizontal competition among franchises and illegally depressing minor league salaries.
Baseball’s salary guidelines are not public. However, most minor league players make around $7,500 per year.