Recently, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the college football
players at Northwestern should be considered “employees” of
the University and entitled to organize. This decision may have significant
implications for college athletes, should the courts also consider the
athletes “employees” who may be entitled to overtime pay and
other wage and hour protections provided by Federal Labor Law (FLSA).
The FLSA provides basic wage and hour protections to nearly all workers.
These protections include minimum wage and entitle non-exempt employees
overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half times your standard rate of
pay for every hour worked in excess of 40 in any one work week. If you
have questions about your compensation, an experienced
Georgia wage and hour attorney can address your particular situation and provide you the help you need.
According to the Northwestern University’s football players’
lawsuit, student athletes asserted that they should be considered employees
and hence represented by a union. In
Northwestern University, NLRB Case No. 13-RC-121359, the Board determined agreed that the players met the definition of who
is an employee under the terms of the Act, specifically that an employee
is “a person who performs services for another under a contract
of hire, subject to the other’s control or right of control, and
in return for payment.” Here, an employer/employee relationship
exists, according to the decision.
The Board explained that Northwestern’s football program generated
significant income and that in exchange, the scholarship players receive
tuition, fees, room, board, and books for up to five years, which can
total a significant amount of money, as much as $76,000 per calendar year.
Over the course of a college athlete’s term at the university, this
amount may be upwards of one quarter of a million dollars. In order to
receive the scholarship, the players must sign a “tender,”
which is essentially a contract setting forth the conditions under which
a player will get paid.
The Board also looked at the issue of control – a question that
is also important in wage and hour cases under the FLSA. Independent contractors
are generally not entitled to the same protections as employees. InNorthwestern, the coaches’ exhibited “strict and exacting control”
over the players throughout the entire year, including over their personal
lives. Taken as a whole, these factors pointed to the creation of an employment
arrangement, the Board determined.
It’s too soon to tell the ramifications of this decision on various
employment laws such as the FLSA, and how college athletes should be treated.
However, such decision is an important step in protecting many athletes.
As Atlanta wage and hour attorneys, we are dedicated to ensuring all workers
receive the pay they deserve. If you believe that you have been subjected
to unfair working conditions and deprived of minimum wage or overtime
pay please contact our
dedicated wage and hour lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC to fight for you.