John Chen and several others who worked at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game FanFest have filed a complaint against the league seeking class-action status for a lawsuit alleging the league violated federal and state minimum-wage laws.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks to stop MLB from accepting work from unpaid volunteers and recover unpaid wages for the volunteers’ work at FanFest.
The workers filed the complaint at a time when unpaid interns across the country are filing suits against prominent media companies such as Fox Searchlight, Conde Nast and Warner Music Group.
FanFest was an interactive baseball theme park situated at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York during the 2013 All-Star Game, which was played at Citi Field.
“Instead of paying them for their work, MLB, the world's preeminent professional baseball league with annual revenue of more than seven billion dollars, provided volunteers with 'a shirt, a cap and a cinch drawstring backpack,' free admission for the volunteer and one guest to FanFest, a water bottle, and a baseball,” the suit alleges.
This case is in the same ballpark as the other unpaid intern cases "but is more of a fastball down the middle,” the plaintiff’s attorney Justin M. Swartz told TheWrap. “Volunteers made sacrifices for MLB and helped make FanFest a hit. I think it's safe to say that MLB would be off-base to claim that it shouldn't pay them for their work.”
An MLB spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tony Maglio and Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.