SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court upheld a ruling that dismissed a lawsuit filed by minor league baseball players accusing Major League Baseball of colluding to suppress wages.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District on Monday affirmed a district court ruling , saying the minor leagues — like the majors — are exempt from federal antitrust law.
The appeals court ruled that the players failed to state an anti-trust claim because Congress explicitly exempted minor league baseball from those laws in the Curt Flood Act of 1998. Baseball has been exempt from antitrust laws, which are designed to protect trade and commerce from unlawful restraints or monopolies, since 1922.
"Considering the case law and the Curt Flood Act, it is undeniably true that minor league baseball — particularly the employment of minor league baseball players and the requirement that they sign a uniform contract containing a reserve clause — falls squarely within baseball's exemption from federal antitrust laws," Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote in the opinion.
An MLB spokesman declined comment.
Four minor league players sued MLB in 2015, alleging that its hiring and employment policies violated antitrust laws by "restrain(ing) horizontal competition between and among" franchises and "artificially and illegally depressing" minor league salaries.
Though baseball's salary guidelines are not public, the players said that most minor leaguers make less than $7,500 a year.
Proceedings in another case brought by a group of minor leaguers arguing MLB has violated minimum wage laws has been stayed as the 9th Circuit hears arguments for whether the case should move forward as a class action suit.