Major League Baseball has agreed to pay a $185 million settlement to minor leaguers, relating to the alleged violations of minimum wage laws. The case had gone through the courts for eight years but never reached a trial.
Garrett Broshuis led the legal team for the minor league players throughout this case. He used to be a pitcher in the minor league and thus acknowledges the challenges in this industry.
"This settlement is a monumental step for minor league players toward a fair and just compensation system," said Broshuis. "I've seen first-hand the financial struggle players face while earning poverty-level wages - or no wages at all - in pursuit of their major league dream."
They announced the proposed settlement on May 10 but only filed it this Friday with San Francisco's U.S. District Court. Joseph C. Spero, the chief magistrate, is expected to give his approval in the coming days.
If the judge approves, they will split $120,197,300 among the players. Currently, it is estimated that around 20,000 players will receive the compensation. However, they must survey the eligible players to determine the exact number of recipients.
The remaining fund will go to pay the costs of this lawsuit. Lawyers representing the case will receive $55.5 million and about $5.5 million go to reimbursement of the lawsuit.
Additionally, there will be costs for administration settlement of $450,000, $637,000 to reward the players representing the union in the court, and $2,315,000 for compliance with the California Private Attorney General Act.
Players Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle filed the lawsuit against MLB back in 2014. They claimed that the league had violated state minimum wage and overtime guidelines and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
Harry Marino from Advocates for Minor Leaguers explained the working conditions in the minor league by saying, "For decades, Major League Baseball's 30 team owners have openly conspired to underpay minor league baseball players. Players are required to provide between six and nine months of free labor each year."
In March, Judge Spero ruled that MLB did not comply with minimum wage regulations in Arizona and California. The judge also said that minor leaguers should receive payment when traveling to California League and practicing in Arizona and Florida.
MLB announced that the league is "pleased" that both parties could come to a mutual agreement. The league also mentioned its efforts to improve the working condition for minor leaguers in its statement.
"We are only in the second year of a major overhaul of the 100-year-old player development system and have made great strides to improve the quality of life for minor league players," MLB stated.
"We are proud that minor league players already receive significant benefits, including free housing, quality health care, multiple meals per day, college tuition assistance for those who wish to continue their education and over $450 million in annual signing bonuses for first-year players."
Along with the settlement, the major league also lifted prohibitions against teams paying their minor leaguers outside of the season. MLB advised clubs to follow the regulation of wages and hours implemented in their states.
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