The Major League Baseball has agreed to pay $185 million to current and former minor league baseball players to settle a federal class action lawsuit alleging violations of minimum wage laws.
The settlement was filed Friday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco and is pending a judge’s approval, as it is routine in these types of cases. It is considered one of the largest wage-and-hour class action settlements in history, attorneys representing minor leaguers in the case.
Once approved by Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, the settlement would mark the culmination of a nearly decadelong litigation process.
“This settlement is a monumental step for minor league players toward a fair and just compensation system,” Garrett Broshuis, one of the players’ attorneys and a former minor league pitcher, said in a statement. “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.”
The lawsuit was first filed in 2014 by first baseman/outfielder Aaron Senne, a 10th-round pick of the Marlins in 2009 who retired in 2013, and two other retired players who had been lower-round selections: Kansas City infielder Michael Liberto and San Francisco pitcher Oliver Odle.
They claimed violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state minimum wage and overtime requirements for a work week they estimated at 50 to 60 hours.
A little under $120,200,000 from the settlement is expected to be shared among an estimated 23,000 players — with an average payment of about $5,000 to $5,500.
Almost $56 million will go the the players’ lawyers and up to $5.5 million will cover reimbursement costs of the suit.
Also, $450,000 will be for the costs of administering the settlement, $637,000 will go to incentive awards for the player representatives in the suit, $400,000 for a contingency fund and $2,315,000 for a payment under the California Private Attorney General Act, which allows penalties for violating state labor code.
The MLB’s legal team did not respond to requests for comment, but court records show they did not oppose approval of the settlement.
The league also agreed to rescind any prohibitions against teams paying wages to minor league players outside of the season as part of the settlement and committed to issuing a memorandum advising their clubs to compensate minor leaguers “in compliance with wage-and-hour laws in effect in Arizona and Florida during spring training, extended spring training, instructional leagues, and the championship season in those states, including any minimum wage laws that apply,” court records show.
In a statement to the Associated Press, the MLB said the organization is “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.”
“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,” the MLB said.
“We are pleased we were able to come to a mutually agreeable resolution but are unable to comment on the details until the agreement is formally approved by the court,” the MLB said.
Associated Press contributed.