Minor Leaguers’ Antitrust Action Against MLB is Dismissed
On September 14, 2015, a federal judge in California granted Major League Baseball’s motion to dismiss the minor league players’ antitrust action. The class action claimed that the MLB violated federal antitrust law, alleging that the league suppressed the compensation of minor league players through its antitrust exemption. This historic exemption was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922.
District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr.’s decision dismissed the case pursuant to a January 2015 decision in which the 9th Circuit upheld the MLB’s antitrust exemption. Judge Haywood’s September 2015 opinion stated the following:
In short, Plaintiffs have a persuasive policy argument that the [MLB] should not be afforded carte blanche to restrict the pay and mobility of minor league players without answering to the federal antitrust laws that apply to the employment of major league baseball players and, for that matter, all other professional sports leagues. But that policy argument must be made to Congress or the Supreme Court.
Today, minor league baseball players have greater restrictions placed upon them as compared to their colleagues in the Major League. Moreover, most minor league players are not represented by the players’ union, the MLBPA.