SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge on Friday will hear arguments on whether 11 Major League Baseball teams should be part of a class action accusing the league of underpaying minor league players.
The hearing stems from a February 2014 lawsuit from lead plaintiff Aaron Senne, who played for the Miami Marlins organization from 2010 to 2013.
Senne claims that Major League Baseball violates state and federal laws by paying players very low wages, often less than $7,500 for an entire season.
Many amateurs receive small signing bonuses, of around $2,500, but by agreeing to a uniform player contract are bound to an MLB team for seven years .
That team can assign the player’s rights to any other team or terminate the agreement for any reason.
Since players can’t leave voluntarily to play for another team, they have little contractual mobility, Senne says.
A consolidated complaint names all thirty MLB clubs as defendants, as well as the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball dba Major League Baseball, and Commissioner Bud Selig.
In November 2104, 10 teams filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against them, because their minor league players don’t play games in California. The Baltimore Orioles filed a similar, separate motion to dismiss, also on jurisdictional grounds.
The other 10 teams are the Atlanta Braves, the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers, the New York Yankees, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals.
They claim that their limited contacts with California “do not come remotely close to satisfying” the court’s standard for personal jurisdiction.
“The moving defendants cannot be said to have approximated a physical presence in California … simply because they play a handful of Major League Baseball games in California during the baseball season or because a small fraction of their individual employees are based in or travel to California,” the teams say in their motion to dismiss.
The defendants are represented by Elise Bloom with Proskauer Rose in New York City.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Spero will hear arguments in his San Francisco courtroom at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13.
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