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Major (and Minor) League Baseball Wage Violations (Part 1)

Several Major and Minor League baseball teams ordered to remedy wage violations to mostly low-paid employees across the country.

Baseball is America’s pastime…and so, too does it seem that shafting hard working employees, has become something of a pastime for the owners of the baseball teams around the country. That is, until the United States Department of Labor got a hold of them.

In early 2013, the MLB (Major League Baseball) became aware that the Department of Labor had gained knowledge of potential unlawful wage and hour violations in some of its clubs. In a statement issued by the then Executive Vice President of Labor Relations (now the commissioner-elect) the owners of the various teams, club presidents and attorneys were warned that “The Department of Labor believes that the issues it has identified are endemic to our industry, and has requested the Office of the Commissioner’s assistance in addressing its concerns.”

San Francisco Giants Wage Theft

The investigations started with the Miami Marlins and the San Francisco Giants. After investigations were completed, it was determined that there were approximately 40 employees of the Marlins, including clubhouse staff and office workers who had been victims of wage theft. Many of the 23 clubhouse workers were responsible for providing services to team players, such as cleaning and preparing the locker rooms for games. They were paid around $50 per day, but often worked as many as 11 hours on game days, never receiving payment for overtime hours worked and often not even meeting the minimum wage law requirements.

The Marlins reached an agreement with the Department of Labor for an estimated $288,290 in back wages and damages to its employees.

The San Francisco Giants had even bigger problems. According to the Department of Labor investigation, the Giants had nearly 80 employees who had been unlawfully victimized by the club’s wage theft practices. Many of the Giants employees were interns who only received a daily stipend. The DOL determined that they were, in fact, employees, entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay for hours worked in excess of the 40 per week allowed by California law. This is in addition to the fact that California’s minimum wage is higher than the federal requirements. Those interns were involved in baseball operations and group sales, among other duties.

The Giants were also found to have improperly classified some employees as exempt from overtime pay, including clubhouse managers and video operators for the parent team and its minor league affiliates.

The Giants were ordered to pay $765,508 by the Department of Labor.

We will continue this series in the next few articles.