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Federal judge rules athletes are not employees


In potentially extremely interesting news today, an Indiana federal court ruled that athletes participation in an NCAA athletic team does not make them employees of their university.


An Indiana federal court on Tuesday dismissed a suit former University of Pennsylvania athletes brought against the NCAA over their employment status, ruling that the fact that the athletes participate in an NCAA athletic team at Penn does not make them employees of Penn for wage-and-hour purposes.
Although the former athletes argued that they were workers analogous to work-study participants and should be paid minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act, U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence disagreed. He said that the economic reality of the situation and the U.S. Department of Labor’s own assessments of work-study positions don’t support protections under the FLSA.

Judge Lawrence dismissed the NCAA and all other defendants from the suit without prejudice for a lack of jurisdiction, leaving only the University of Pennsylvania in his consideration of FLSA liability. He dismissed claims against Penn with prejudice.

"Because the court has made this determination as a matter of law, rather than on the basis of a deficiency in the facts pled by the plaintiffs, it would be futile to permit the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to assert additional facts,” the judge ruled. “Accordingly, the court will enter judgment in favor of Penn."