Every minor league baseball player attends spring training in Arizona or Florida. With rare exceptions, those players are not paid until the regular season begins.
Thousands of players who participated in spring training from 2014 to 2019 can join a lawsuit alleging that baseball’s owners have not complied with labor laws. Minor league players in California, Arizona and Florida are eligible to participate in the suit, according to a ruling issued Friday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appellate court reversed a judge’s 2017 ruling that would have prevented the class-action suit from proceeding with regard to Arizona or Florida.
The suit, filed in 2014, alleges that major league teams do not comply with minimum wage laws.
“They should be complying with those laws just like Walmart is complying with those laws,” said Garrett Broshuis, an attorney for the minor league players.
In 2018, after lobbying from Major League Baseball, Congress passed a law that guaranteed the federal minimum wage to minor league players — but only for a 40-hour work week, no matter how many hours the players might actually work.
The minimum wages in California, Arizona and Florida are greater than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
MLB has argued that minor league jobs are akin to seasonal apprenticeships, and that a dramatic wage increase might mean a reduction in the number of minor league teams. MLB can appeal Friday’s ruling. The league did not comment.