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Former USC Linebacker Lamar Dawson and NCAA Student Athlete Not an Employee Under the FLSA and CA Labor Code

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2019 | in Employment Updates, Minimum Wage, Overtime, Wage & Hour

In Dawson v. NCAA (9th Cir. 17-15973 decided 8/12/19) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a Division I college football player Lamar Dawson‘s claim that he was an employee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the PAC-12 Conference within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California labor law and thus entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. The panel held that Division I football players were not employees of the NCAA or PAC-12 as a matter of federal law because the economic reality of the relationship between the NCAA/PAC-12 and student-athletes did not reflect an employment relationship.

The panel concluded that NCAA regulations providing a limitation
on scholarships did not create any expectation of compensation; plaintiff could
not demonstrate that the NCAA or the PAC-12 had the power to fire or hire him;
and there was no evidence that the NCAA rules were conceived or carried out to
evade the law. Further, the revenue generated by college sports did not convert
the relationship between student-athletes and the NCAA into an employment
relationship. Thus, the NCAA and Pac-12 were regulatory bodies, not employers
of student-athletes under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The panel also affirmed the district court’s dismissal for
failure to state a claim of plaintiff’s California law claims. The panel held
that the district court properly relied on a legislative exception for
student-athletes from workers compensation benefits and the California courts’
interpretation of this exception. The panel held that, under the California
Labor Code, student-athletes were not employees of the NCAA/PAC-12.

We hope the Ninth Circuit will be kinder to us in our recent appeal heard August 6, 2019 in San Francisco involving 20,000 AutoZone employees that was dismissed before trial due to some very pro-business employment decisions that were they made today may have been different due to Troester v. Starbucks Corp., 5 Cal. 5th 829 (2018).  Our case is entitled Jimmy Ellison and  William Doland v. Autozone Inc. where Plaintiffs appeal the district court’s judgment certifying then decertifying the class on rest breaks and overtime claims and refusing to allow the representative wage & hour PAGA claims to proceed.

If you have any questions about whether you are an employee or independent contractor, have been paid properly or paid all minimum wages or asked to work off the clock or believe you have a claim against your employer for any violation of the California Labor Code, please feel free to contact Richard E. Quintilone II Esq. or 949-458-9675, or visit www.quintlaw.com for additional information.

The entire opinion in the Dawson v. NCAA case can be accessed
here. http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2019/08/12/17-15973.pdf

California Minimum Wage Increases Starting July 1, 2019