NCAA Student Athletes as Employees Case to Open ‘Pandora’s Box’
Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, spoke to Bloomberg Law about a pending National Labor Relations Board case set to determine whether college athletes should be considered employees under federal labor law. Hearings on the matter will start shortly over unfair labor practice charges and will determine whether three entities "jointly employ student football and basketball players and whether they were illegally misclassified as 'non-employee student athletes.'"
"A decision to classify student athletes as employees under the National Labor Relations Act would open a 'Pandora’s box' of other legal questions, especially for smaller institutions that may not be able to keep up with the financial demands of employing athletes," said Irwin.
“They might choose to only fund the ones that are profitable and is that good for students? Would that detract from the overall educational experience for many? Perhaps,” he said. “Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for because you might get it and it might potentially have unintended consequences.”
The article notes that this case is one of several efforts by labor advocates to grant full employee rights to student athletes and discusses the attendant potential issues such as unionization, wage and hour discrimination suits and legal questions under Title IX and conference consolidation.
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