Gaming the System: The Exemption of Professional Sports Teams from the Fair Labor Standards Act

61 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2015 Last revised: 26 Apr 2016

See all articles by Charlotte Alexander

Charlotte Alexander

Georgia State University - Risk Management & Insurance Department; Georgia State University College of Law

Nathaniel Grow

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Law

Date Written: February 23, 2015

Abstract

This article examines a little known exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) that relieves seasonal recreational or amusement employers from their obligation to pay the minimum wage and overtime. The article evaluates the existing, confused case law surrounding the exemption and proposes a new, simplified framework for applying the provision. It then applies this framework to a recent wave of FLSA lawsuits brought against professional sports teams by cheerleaders, minor league baseball players, and stadium workers who claim they received less than the hourly minimum wage and/or were denied overtime pay. In particular, it determines that, when viewed properly, sports teams will often qualify for the exemption in at least some aspects of their operations. The article concludes by considering the policy implications of exempting this class of employers — some of which are worth up to three billion dollars — from the FLSA’s wage and hour requirements.

Keywords: National Football League, NFL, Major League Baseball, MLB, Fair Labor Standards Act, FLSA, National Basketball Association, NBA, National Hockey League, NHL, minimum wage, overtime, cheerleaders, minor league baseball, Senne, 213(a)(3), Bridewell v. Cincinnati Reds, Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Charlotte and Grow, Nathaniel, Gaming the System: The Exemption of Professional Sports Teams from the Fair Labor Standards Act (February 23, 2015). UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 49, 2015; Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2568758 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2568758

Charlotte Alexander

Georgia State University - Risk Management & Insurance Department ( email )

35 Broad Street
Room 1142
Atlanta, GA 30303
United States

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Nathaniel Grow (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Law ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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