Two Major League Baseball clubs–the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins—are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for possible federal wage law violations. The investigations come amid wider concern about questionable pay practices throughout professional baseball, according to interviews and records obtained by FairWarning under the Freedom of Information Act.
The concern: unpaid interns who aren’t really doing intern work. Clubhouse employees who aren’t getting overtime. Stuff in that vein.
This is an expansion of the stuff we heard earlier this year about the Giants, who settled with clubhouse workers who were found to be making less than minimum wage. According to the documents obtained, however, the government is looking at all of Major League Baseball now, and there is a suggestion that the problem is “endemic.”
There have been many cases recently in various industries concerning unpaid internships. Fashion. Publishing. Industries where scads of people compete for jobs and are willing to work for free to get their foot in the door. Some courts have found that these workers have been taken advantage of, which in turn has led to pretty significant changes in internship programs. Or, in some case, their elimination. I have no idea whether baseball is doing things how they should be, but I will say that the dynamic in baseball is similar to that of other glamorous, high profile industries. Tons of people who want in and who will take little if anything to get their foot in the door.