Seventh Circuit Holds that Student Athletes Are Not Employees Under the FLSA

 
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
 

Former student athletes at the University of Pennsylvania sued the University, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), and more than 120 other NCAA Division I universities and colleges alleging that student athletes are employees who are entitled to a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The district court disagreed with the Appellants (the student athletes). The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court and upheld that student athletes are not employees and are not covered by the FLSA.

The two Appellants, Gillian Berger and Taylor Hennig, were former student-athletes at Penn. Many of the collegiate athletic teams across the country are regulated by the NCAA. The district court granted Appellees’ motions, holding that (1) Appellants lacked standing to sue any of the Appellees other than Penn, and (2) Appellants failed to state a claim against Penn because student athletes are not employees under the FLSA.

Under the FLSA, the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that he or she performed work for an employer and is therefore entitled to compensation. The Court of Appeals determined that as  a matter of law, that student athletes are not employees under the FLSA and that no discovery or further development of the record could help Appellants.

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