How will the court’s decision affect current MiLB players?

The class-action lawsuit that saw minor league players seek unpaid wages reached a major milestone with the March 15 unveiling of U.S. District Court Chief Judge Joseph C. Spero’s ruling that finds MLB liable for the unpaid salaries of minor league players who participated in spring training, extended spring training and instructional league.

The case itself is set to go to jury trial on June 1, although there may be a settlement before then, which was noted in the attorney’s submissions. before Judge Spero.

But this week’s ruling leads to another, more direct question: Now that a judge has ruled that MLB is responsible for paying back wages to minor leaguers who haven’t been paid, what does that mean? does it mean for current minor leaguers?

Beginning in 2020, MLB required all teams to pay players who participate in instructional league play. But currently, there is no requirement for teams to pay minor league players during spring training.

And that could be tricky legally for MLB going forward.

In Arizona and Florida, minor league players are currently participating in spring training without being paid. Until this week, it was the subject of a legal dispute. Now, a federal court has attempted to provide clarification.

In their arguments in court, MLB’s attorneys argued that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the violations (if they occurred) were willful. They argued: “Plaintiffs must present undisputed material facts that demonstrate that defendants knew they were acting in violation of the law, or showed reckless disregard for the case, instead of having acted carelessly or unreasonably.”

The judge entered summary judgment, ruling that minor league players attending spring training in Arizona are employees and perform work that requires compensation. But the court’s decision left it to the June 1 jury trial to decide the legal question of whether it was willful disregard or negligence.

Prior to this week’s ruling, MLB argued that these were workouts that minor league players did not need to be paid for. But now that the court has ruled that these are employees and that spring training activities are work, it would seem that this argument will be more complicated in the future since the court has issued a clear decision on the matter .

Similarly, the court ruled that MLB failed to maintain proper payroll records as required by Arizona state law. While this decision looks backwards, MLB would run the risk of further violations if it did not change its practices in the future.

Baseball America has contacted MLB to ask if it intends to change guidelines for teams on whether to pay players for spring training that is taking place right now. So far, we haven’t heard a response.

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