Traditional labor law is not our bailiwick — we do employment discrimination law. But a new NLRB ruling today has major implications for us.
The NLRB in Chicago ruled today that Northwestern University football players are employees, not students as the school argued, and therefore can unionize.
CNN said today that “the board’s decision indicates that there was enough evidence presented that the athletes are employees of the university — getting paid in the form of scholarships, working between 20 and 50 hours per week and generating millions of dollars for their institutions. The athletes have said they’re seeking better medical coverage, concussion testing, four-year scholarships and the possibility of being paid.”
Last month we wrote about a prison inmate who was held to be an employee and therefore could invoke the protections of Title VII. We said that “Employment anti-discrimination laws quite naturally apply to employment and employees. However, we know that the issue of who is an “employee” is not so easy to determine sometimes. Is someone an employee or independent contractor? Is an intern an employee? Is a volunteer? Are the “crowds” who perform micro-services on the Amazon platform?”
Are “student” athletes now employees under Title VII?
An appeal is expected.