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Berger v. NCAA

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

September 28, 2016, Argued; December 5, 2016, Decided

No. 16-1558

Opinion

 [*288]  Kanne, Circuit Judge. Former student athletes at the University of Pennsylvania ("Penn") sued Penn, 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. We agree with the district court and hold that student athletes are not employees and are not covered by the FLSA.

 [*289]  I. Background

Gillian Berger and Taylor Hennig ("Appellants") are former students at Penn who participated on Penn's women's track and field team. Like many collegiate athletic teams across the country, Penn's women's track and field team is regulated by the NCAA. The NCAA is a member-driven, unincorporated association of 1121 colleges and universities. It is divided into three divisions—Divisions I, II, and III— based roughly on the size of the schools and their athletic programs. Penn's women's track and field team competes in Division I, which includes the largest colleges and universities in the country. [**5] 

Appellants sued Penn, the NCAA, and more than 120 other NCAA Division I member schools ("Appellees"), alleging that student athletes are "employees" within the meaning of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 201. Accordingly, Appellants contend that the NCAA and its member schools violated the FLSA by not paying their athletes a minimum wage. Appellees moved to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).

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. This appeal followed.

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843 F.3d 285 *; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 21642 **; 167 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P36,492; 27 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 136

GILLIAN BERGER, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 14-cv-1710 - William T. Lawrence, Judge.

Berger v. NCAA, 162 F. Supp. 3d 845, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18194 (S.D. Ind., 2016)

CORE TERMS

athletic, employees, sports, student athlete, schools, district court, multifactor, Collegiate, amateurism, courts, motion to dismiss, economic reality, student-athlete, employment relationship, track and field, minimum wage, interscholastic, Handbook, purposes, team

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Justiciability, Standing, Burdens of Proof, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Injury in Fact, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Business & Corporate Compliance, Wage & Hour Laws, Labor & Employment Law, Wage & Hour Laws, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Scope & Definitions, Minimum Wage, Labor & Employment Law, Definition of Employ, Definition of Employees, Definition of Employers, Education Law, Intercollegiate & Interscholastic Athletics, Athletic Associations, Student Eligibility, Intercollegiate & Interscholastic Athletics, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Coverage, Employment Status, Employees, Students