Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dept. of Labor 1, Major League Baseball 0 (Brian Farrington)

By Brian Farrington

Article by Brian Farrington Back in April, I reported on a case where a US District Court in New York found that several unpaid interns at Fox Searchlight pictures were in fact employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which is the federal wage hour law. The Court concluded that the interns should have been paid at least minimum wage, as well as overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours in any workweek. Now the US Dept. of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, which enforces the FLSA, is investigating two Major League Baseball teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Miami Marlins. One of the issues involves unpaid interns, but that’s not the only problem.  Indeed, in August the San Francisco office of the Wage and Hour Division announced a settlement with the Giants from a previous investigation. The Giants agreed to pay over $500,000 in back wages to employees. It seems that they had misclassified employees such as Clubhouse Managers and Video Specialists as exempt, and paid them only salaries with no overtime. There were also a number of employees paid on daily rates, who worked so many hours that their average hourly rate was less than minimum wage, and who received no overtime. The Office of the Commissioner sent out a memo to all Major League clubs informing them of the investigations, and suggesting that they hire local counsel and get their own houses in order. The memo also said that  the Wage and Hour Division would make a presentation to the teams at the upcoming winter meetings in Florida, and required every team to send at least one representative to that meeting. In other words, it looks like the Commissioner wants every team to play ball with the Wage and Hour Division. Any employers who are concerned with their compliance under the FLSA, or who wish to discuss other employment law issues, can contact me at Cowles & Thompson.

Return to list.