Monday, August 20, 2018

The Save America's Pastime Act

At the behest of Major League Baseball, the omnibus spending bill that Congress enacted back in March included a short, half-page provision known as the Save America's Pastime Act (SAPA). The SAPA created a new exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act, largely excluding minor-league baseball players from the federal minimum wage and overtime rules.

I just posted the draft of a new law review article -- entitled The Save America's Pastime Act and Its Implications for the Future of Minor-League Baseball -- analyzing the SAPA and its implications for the professional baseball industry. The abstract of the article appears below:
Buried deep within the 2,232-page omnibus federal spending bill passed by Congress in March 2018, was an obscure, half-page provision entitled the “Save America’s Pastime Act” (SAPA). The SAPA was inserted into the spending bill at the last minute at the behest of Major League Baseball (MLB), following several years — and several million dollars — worth of lobbying efforts. MLB pursued the legislation to insulate its minor-league pay practices from legal challenge after they had become the subject of a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that the league’s teams failed to pay minor-league players in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The SAPA largely shields MLB from these claims by creating a new statutory exemption excluding most professional baseball players from the protections of the FLSA.
This article provides the first substantive analysis of the SAPA. Specifically, it asserts that although initial assessments concluded that the provision would shield MLB from any future liability for its minor-league pay practices, a closer reading of the statute reveals that it contains several potential ambiguities that could arguably give rise to unanticipated liability for the league. At the same time, however, the article nevertheless asserts that the SAPA significantly reduces the odds that MLB will be forced to substantially change its minor-league pay practices in the future.
The article can be downloaded here. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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