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Brent Douglas is an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Benefits Practice, and is based in the firm’s San Diego office. He counsels employers and corporate executives on employment law issues, including class action claims. Brent also advises clients on avoiding or mitigating workplace issues, conducts workplace investigations, and trainings for management personnel on nondiscrimination, non-harassment, and anti-bullying.

Former UCLA basketball star and NCAA champion Ed O’Bannon was the lead plaintiff in a 2009 class action lawsuit that was the first serious challenge to the lifeblood of the NCAA’s very existence: all of its players are unpaid amateurs.  The case – forever called the “O’Bannon” case – claimed Division I men’s basketball and football players ought to be compensated for the commercial use of their names and likenesses.  Both sides appealed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2015 ruling, but on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court denied both petitions, preserving the NCAA’s coveted system of amateurism . . . for now.

The denial leaves in place the lower court’s ruling favor of O’Bannon, where a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel found that NCAA Rules constitute an unlawful, anti-competitive conspiracy between the NCAA and its 1,000-plus schools.  Before the Ninth Circuit heard the case, the District Court ruled that colleges must reward men’s basketball and football players up to $5,000 per year while they are in school for the use of their names, images and likenesses, but two of the three Ninth Circuit judges overturned the payment portion of the ruling.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Declines to Hear the O’Bannon Case, Holding in Place the NCAA’s System of Amateurism

In 2014, a group of minor league players sued Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner, former commissioner Bud Selig, and three MLB franchises alleging numerous violations of the federal minimum-wage law. Some minor league players reportedly received $3,000 to $7,000 over a five-month season, even though they claimed to spend 50 to 70 hours a week in baseball-related activities. The case was amended to include all 30 MLB franchises, though eight teams were later dismissed. Central to the players’ strategy was obtaining standing to pursue a class action to defray individual costs and maximize recovery.  However, a recent ruling by a California federal court dealt a blow to the players by rejecting their request for class certification.

Although the players were conditionally granted class status in 2015, Chief Magistrate Judge Spero reversed this temporary status and ruled the players could not proceed as a class in part because of the individualized inquiries needed to determine which class members were owed compensation.

Continue Reading Minor League Baseball Players Strike Out in Attempt to Certify Class for Wage Claims