Last August, I posted about a collective (class) action Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit filed against MLB as the result of using unpaid volunteers to work at their All-Star games. The lawsuit alleged that approximately 2,000 unpaid “volunteers” did the vast majority of work during All-Star Weekend, including, staffing the “All-Star FanFest, a lucrative, for-profit commercial operation that MLB promoted as ‘the largest interactive baseball theme park in the world’, and described as ‘baseball heaven on earth’”. MLB responded that the FLSA exempts from the minimum wage requirements individuals who perform services for an amusement or recreational establishment that does not operate more than seven months in any calendar year. In dismissing the case of Chen v. Major League Baseball, et al., the court found that “establishment” in the FLSA includes such things as amusement parks, circuses and sporting events. Department of Labor regulations define “establishment” as “a distinct place of business rather than…an entire business or enterprise which may include several places of business.”
Practice pointer. The FLSA remains fertile ground for lawsuits in Birmingham and around Alabama. Employers should review the classification of their employees as exempt or non-exempt, and pay overtime when required by the FLSA.