SACKOS V. NCAA: Are Student-Athletes “Temporary Employees?”

Barkan Meizlish , May 18, 2015

Last week, a former college soccer player filed a putative collective action on behalf of herself and other student-athletes alleging that the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) failure to pay college athletes for their hours “worked” violated the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the NCAA’s bylaws prohibit schools from recognizing student-athletes as “temporary employees” under the FLSA.  Samantha Sackos, the athlete making the allegations, contends that student-athletes should be considered “employees” under the FLSA and entitled to receive payment for their athletic time commitments.  According to Sackos, student-athletes perform non-academic work similar to “work-study” participants (such as tour guides or students working at food service counters) that qualify as temporary employees under the FLSA and thus are entitled to receive minimum wage for their services.

This lawsuit follows a similar case involving football players asserting “employee” status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  The Chicago Regional Director of the NLRB recently determined that the Northwestern University athletes were employees under the NLRA, allowing them to form a union and bargain over the terms of their “work” as athletes.

Source:  Jonathan L. Israel, The Next Cleat Drops…College Athletes Sue for Unpaid Wages, Nov. 3, 2014 

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