By Dan Cook
When San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (2014 salary: $12.5 million) needed a clean towel to wipe off his bat handle in mid-game, a clubhouse assistant making a total of $55 for the day probably handed him one.
While the Giants’ bookkeeping showed the clubhouse assistant was being paid for 5.5 hours of work, or $10 an hour, in fact, such workers routinely worked more than 12 hours a day — but still received only $55.
That practice, and others designed to underpay the non-stars who support the stars, are no longer in effect. Thanks to an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Giants have agreed to repay 74 workers $544,715 in back wages. The team also agreed to end practices that exploit such workers.
The action was based upon violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act; similar actions against other sports teams might soon follow.
“I am encouraged that the Giants acted to resolve this issue, but it was disappointing to learn that clubhouse workers providing services to high-paid sports stars weren’t making enough to meet the basic requirements of minimum-wage law,” said Laura Fortman, principal deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “We are pleased that the Giants addressed this matter, and it is our hope that other Major League Baseball teams will take a close look at their pay practices to ensure they are in compliance with the law.”
The Wage and Hour Division release said its investigation revealed the following about the way the Giants compensated the 74 major and minor league employees:
- The Giants forced employees to agree to accept $55 for 5.5 hours of work a day.
- The clubhouse employees were working more hours than were recorded, an average of 12 to 15 hours daily.
- The workers received less than the hourly federal minimum wage of $7.25 and were also not paid overtime for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek.
- The Giants improperly classified a number of employees as exempt from overtime pay, including clubhouse managers at the major and minor league levels and video operators at the team's major and minor league affiliates.
- The non-exempt employees were paid a straight salary and no overtime premium, as required based on their job duties.
- The Giants failed to pay overtime or incorrectly calculated overtime pay for administrative staff participating in the Giants' bonus program, in violation of the FLSA.
Meantime, Wage and Hour Division personnel are already combing the records of other teams to see whether similar practices exist elsewhere.
“MLB has agreed to work collaboratively with the department to ensure all MLB teams are in compliance with the FLSA,” Fortman said.
Originally published on BenefitsPro.com