A former Lingerie Football League player has filed a class action lawsuit in a California state court against the all-female professional league (now called the Legends Football League) and it’s founder and chairman Mitchell Mortaza. The lawsuit claims that active and former players were intentionally misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees. The complaint alleges a number of violations of the California wage and hour laws, including failure to pay compensation for all hours worked; failure to pay at least the minimum wage; and failure to pay overtime wages.
The League allegedly mandated attendance at practices, games, and marketing events on dates and at times established by the League and reserved the right to punish or fire players for failure to attend such events; prohibited the players from participating in any outside activities that might result in significant physical injury; and did not allow any negotiation regarding the terms of the independent contractor agreement. Margulies v. Legends Football League, LLC, No. BC550244 (Super. Ct. Cal. June 27, 2014).
As stated in the complaint of the suit, “the designation of the football players as independent contractors was and is clearly improper because the players lack the requisite control and discretion over their job responsibilities and duties to deserve treatment as independent contractors.” By classifying players as independent contractors, the league was (and still is) able to circumvent applicable wage and hour laws, and deprive them of benefits including workers’ compensation.
Certainly, one can appreciate the importance of workers’ compensation benefits to league football players who are engaging in a contact sport where serious or even catastrophic injuries may occur.