Hill v. Delaware North Co. Sportservice: Wage and Hour Disputes

In Hill v. Delaware North Co. Sportservice, the plaintiffs worked at the concessions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  This is the stadium where the Baltimore Orioles play their home games.  This was an employment lawsuit filed over an alleged breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The FLSA applies to employees in many situations in this jurisdiction as well as in the state of California.

professionalIn Hill, these employees were working for a company that provides concessions, including the sale of food and merchandise, at the baseball stadium.  These days, it is much more likely that the people who work at a stadium or other type of large event work for a contractor as opposed to the owners of the facility itself.  These contractors, of which there are only couple in each region of the county, will typically handle concessions for many different facilities.  Since there is not full-time work at any one stadium in most cases, it is common for these employees to work at different sporting facilities and convection centers to get more hours.  This is also true in terms of the private security personnel at a sporting event though they are usually employed by a different contractor than the one that handles the food and merchandise concessions. There is no question that sporting events are big business, and this is just part of the business.

In this case, the defendant operated all of the fixed concession stands selling food and merchandise throughout the park and also the mobile concession carts located throughout the stadium grounds.  On days where there are not home games, private parties can rent the facilities and these employees may also be required to prove services.  This is standard throughout Major League Baseball according to court records.

Even though these workers were required to work more than 40 hours in a single pay period, their employer was not paying them overtime wages.  The reason for this was because their employer claimed it was exempt since there is an exemption in the FLSA for employees who work for amusement or recreational events or facilities. The justification is that these are often seasonal or short-term jobs and the company can require employees to work many hours in a given pay period but not pay overtime since they are not permanent jobs.  Ski areas and amusement parks often hire people for the season and do not pay overtime.  However, this is not appropriate in every case and if you feel you are victim of wage and hour violations, you should contact an Orange County wage and hour dispute attorney as soon as possible to see if you have a valid claim.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claimant that their employer was not covered by the exemption since their employer did not personally provide the amusement or recreation services since they did not own the stadium of the baseball team. However, the court concluded that when you work on a contract for a company that provides the recreational services or runs an amusement, it is as if you personally provide these services and are exempt under the FLSA.  This was affirmed on appeal.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

Additional Resources:

Hill v. Delaware North Co. Sportservice, October 3, 2016, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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