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Dawson v. National Collegiate Athletic Association/PAC-12 Conference

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

October 15, 2018, Argued and submitted, San Francisco, California ; August 12, 2019, Filed

Case No. 17-15973—United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Opinion

SUMMARY3

Labor Law

The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of a Division I college football player's claim that he was an employee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the PAC-12 Conference within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California labor law and thus entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.

The panel held that Division I football players were not employees of the NCAA or PAC-12 as a matter of federal law because the economic reality of the relationship between the NCAA/PAC-12 and student-athletes did not reflect an [***807]  employment relationship. The panel concluded that NCAA regulations providing a limitation on scholarships did not create any expectation of compensation; plaintiff could not demonstrate that the NCAA or the PAC-12 had the power to fire or hire him; and there was no evidence that the NCAA rules were conceived or carried out to evade the law. Further, the revenue generated by college sports did not convert the relationship between student-athletes and the NCAA into [**4]  an employment relationship. Thus, the NCAA and Pac-12 were regulatory bodies, not employers of student-athletes under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The panel also affirmed the district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim of plaintiff's California law claims. The panel held that the district court properly relied on a legislative exception for student-athletes from workers compensation benefits and the California courts' interpretation of this exception. The panel held that, under the California Labor Code, student-athletes were not employees of the NCAA/PAC-12.

 [*907]  THOMAS, Chief Judge:

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932 F.3d 905 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23920 **; 84 Cal. Comp. Cases 805 ***; 170 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P36,726; 2019 WL 3770819

LAMAR DAWSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION; PAC-12 CONFERENCE, Defendants-Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1]  United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 3:16-cv-05487-RS. Hon. Richard Seeborg, District Judge, Presiding, see Dawson v. NCAA, 250 F. Supp. 3d 401, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64082, 82 Cal. Comp. Cases 489 (N.D. Cal., Apr. 25, 2017)

Dawson v. NCAA, 250 F. Supp. 3d 401, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64082 (N.D. Cal., Apr. 25, 2017)

Disposition: Appeal from decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. District Court decision affirmed (District Court decision dismissed plaintiff’s state law claims).

CORE TERMS

student-athletes, athletic, employees, schools, economic reality, Bylaw, employment relationship, district court, labor code, hire, football, sports, football player, financial aid, labor law, eligibility, regulations, schedules, factors

Labor & Employment Law, Wage & Hour Laws, Scope & Definitions, Definition of Employ, Definition of Employees, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Coverage, Employment Status, Employees