Chen v. Major League Baseball: Hybrid Collective Action under Rule 23 and the Fair Labor Standards Act 216(b)


  • Sungho Cho Bowling Green State University
  • Joshua Smith Old Dominion University



Sport organizations frequently rely on volunteers and interns to operate various programs and events. While the use of such affordable or completely free labor has become an industry-wide practice, it may run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and state labor law (Schoepfer & Dodds, 2010). This article explores several procedural issues related to the hybrid collective action under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Fair Labor Standards Act 216(b) in light of a recent lawsuit filed against Major League Baseball, i.e., Chen v. Major League Baseball (2014). In Chen, a volunteer who worked for the MLB FanFest during the 2013 All-Star week argued that the league violated the law because it used volunteers for the fan festival without paying minimum wage. Various procedural aspects of such hybrid action are examined. A couple of defenses supported by recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions are introduced.






Original Research