MANHATTAN (CN) – Taking a swing at what he calls the “classic cartel known as Major League Baseball,” a former scout for the Kansas City Royals claims in Federal Court that franchises conspire to ensure cheap labor.
The New Jersey-based Jordan Wyckoff says he signed a one-year contract with the Royals three years ago to scout for the team in the northeastern United States.
The job allegedly earned Wyckoff $15,000 a year to search for the team’s next prospects in the amateur and professional circuits of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Wyckoff says the franchise labeled him a “part-time” scout, but “actually expected him to work full time and perform the same duties as other full-time scouts.”
From October 2012 to 2013, Wyckoff allegedly worked overtime during the busiest months from January to June.
“During these peak months, he often worked in excess of forty hours per week,” the 35-page complaint states. “Yet he was paid the same semi-monthly salary – he was not paid overtime pay when his hours exceeded forty hours per week.”
On a week that he put in “close to 60 hours,” including travel time, Wyckoff claims that he effectively worked below the minimum wage and collected his usual $300 paycheck.
The Royals did not renew his contract at the end of the year, and Wyckoff alleges that Major League Baseball’s anticompetitive rules prevented other teams from scouting him before it was already too late to hire him.
The MLB prohibits “cold-calling” and poaching by competing teams, he says.
Wyckoff claims that “at least one thousand” scouts share his experiences.
His lawsuit names as defendants the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, the MLB, Commissioner Robert Manfred, his predecessor Allan “Bud” Selig and all 30 franchises.
“Defendants’ cartel has operated for over 100 years, and the cartel has conspired to exploit labor throughout its history,” the complaint states. “The exploitative practices continue today, and they have harmed plaintiff Jordan Wyckoff while he worked as an MLB scout in defendants’ industry.”
Since MLB scouts are not unionized, the proposed class does not have the “ability to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions, and it has made them powerless to combat defendants’ prolonged, collusive behavior,” according to the lawsuit.
“In a properly functioning and lawfully competitive labor market, each defendant would openly compete for these employees by soliciting current employees of one or more other defendants,” the complaint states. “A properly functioning market would involve ‘cold calling’: the practice by which a prospective employer freely communicates with prospective employees – even if the employee does not express interest.”
Wyckoff seeks treble damages under the Sherman Act, Donnelly Act and Fair Labor Standards Act.
He is represented by Judith Scolnick of Scott+Scott.
The MLB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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