Contributed by George Rozzell.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in NCAA v. Alston (https://arkattorneys.com/its-not-over-until/), the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board opined that the agency would now take the position that student athletes at academic institutions meet the common law employee test. Importantly, he cautioned that those institutions who continued the practice of informing these individuals that they were “just” student athletes could face misclassification actions from the NLRB and potential actions for chilling the activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Here is the opinion finding that college athletes are employees of academic institutions. https://apps.nlrb.gov/link/document.aspx/09031d458356ec26
ABC News, and many others, immediately wrote a complete analysis of the opinion – found here. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/explainer-nlrb-memo-college-athletes-employees-80320636
What we’re interested in at Miller | Butler is whether this opinion will necessarily bleed into other areas of employment law; including stemming wage claims, discrimination claims (outside of Title IX protection), and whether Arkansas courts will apply the same standard of review (I predict so). We also wonder whether – in addition to the types of claims this opinion (and other prospective opinions consistent with it) generates – this might place athletes in a unique position of being subject to arbitration agreements with universities. Not to mention whether this will allow public institutions to stifle athlete speech in the name of the intuition’s best interest.
As we enjoy our Hogs this year and their resurgence in all sports, our lawyers will be keeping an eye on these developing issues. For any athlete who wants to talk about these issues, NIL matters, or just general student related advice, we are here for you.