Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Student-Athlete? Or Employee?

Dave-adamson--nATH0CrkMU-unsplashIn a memorandum issued today, Jennifer A. Abruzzo, General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board, reinstated the NLRB's 2017 determination that some college athletes are employees and, as such, have certain statutory rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Not all college athletes are employees, but Abruzzo clarified that to the extent they perform services for a university and operate under the control of the university, and especially if they receive compensation, they qualify as employees. As employees, they're protected when they speak out about their conditions of employment and have the right to self-organize, whether or not the Board certifies a bargaining unit.

Moreover, the NLRB may pursue violations where a university misclassifies an employee-athlete as a "student-athlete, which, she says, risks chilling their protected speech.

The memorandum ends with this:

In sum, it is my position that the scholarship football players at issue in Northwestern University, and similarly situated Players at Academic Institutions, are employees under the Act. I fully expect that this memo will notify the public, especially Players at Academic Institutions, colleges and universities, athletic conferences, and the NCAA, that I will be taking that legal position in future investigations and litigation under the Act. In addition, it notifies them that I will also consider pursuing a misclassification violation.

Samuel D. Brunson

Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

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