Major League Baseball has agreed to pay $185 million to settle a lawsuit filed by minor league players eight years ago, according to a document filed in a California court on Friday. The deal is pending a judge’s approval.
Former minor leaguers Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto and Oliver Odle filed the federal class-action lawsuit in February 2014 seeking pay for minimum-wage and overtime violations of federal and state laws by teams.
The settlement was announced on May 10, three weeks before a scheduled trial. If the settlement is approved, $120,197,300 will be split among players. Another $55.5 million will go to players’ lawyers and $5.5 million will be reimbursement costs of the suit, among other allocations for the settlement money.
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In the settlement, MLB agreed to remove prohibitions against teams that paid minor league players during the offseason. The previous uniform player contract did not allow teams to pay those players outside of the regular season.
“This settlement is a monumental step for minor league players toward a fair and just compensation system,” Garrett Broshuis, the leading attorney in the suit, said in a statement. “As a former minor league baseball player, 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. For the better part of a decade, it has been my honor to help lead this fight and to shine a light on the unfair labor practices that have long plagued America’s pastime.”
Another step in progression for minor league contracts could come with MLB’s antitrust exemption. Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a non-profit, requesting information on the antitrust exemption and its impact on pay for minor league players, a reduction in minor league affiliates and MLB’s international amateur system.