Getty Images

Angel Hernandez — and all of labor — takes a loss in his lawsuit against MLB

16 Comments

A couple of years ago umpire Angel Hernandez sued Major League Baseball alleging racial discrimination. The suit has chugged along quietly since then and we’ve not paid it much notice, but Sheryl Ring of Fangraphs has and she has a fascinating update from it that will be of interest to both law and labor geeks.

The short version: Major League Baseball wants to obtain records of communications between Hernandez and the umpire’s union, most likely to see if Hernandez ever brought up discrimination claims to his union before filing the suit. The league also wants the union’s own internal evaluations of the job Hernandez does on the field. MLB hopes to be able to undercut Hernandez’s arguments that he was discriminated against via these records.

That all makes sense, but it led to a side battle involving where the lawsuit should take place and whether MLB can get those records based on the law of said forum of the lawsuit. Hernandez sued in Ohio, which recognizes a privilege protecting worker-union communications. MLB got the suit moved to New York, however, and such a privilege is not recognized there. Earlier this week MLB got the New York court to agree that the union records should be handed over.

This is a big deal for Hernandez’s suit, obviously, but it has some pretty big implications for later lawsuits involving unionized employees in general. Oh, and as Ring explains, a screwup by Hernandez’s lawyers may have contributed to this outcome. Which, well, bad calls happen sometimes, right?

Go read Ring’s entire update here for a full, clear explanation that clear and easily understood even by the non-lawyers among us.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

Getty Images
3 Comments

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.