Dartmouth Basketball Players Deemed “Employees” by NLRB

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Collegiate athletes may be considered employees according to a recent decision on February 5, 2024, by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).

The case has an interesting history. In September 2023, members of the Dartmouth basketball team filed a petition with the NLRB, seeking to join the local chapter of a labor union that already represents some of the college’s employees. Dartmouth opposed the petition by arguing that the basketball players did not constitute “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (the “Act”).

The NLRB rejected Dartmouth’s arguments and found that, due to the broad definition of “employee” under the Act, the basketball players were deemed employees. Factors that led to this decision include:

  • The fact that the basketball team performed work in exchange for compensation;
  • The level of control Dartmouth exercised over the players’ work; and
  • The players represented Dartmouth when wearing Dartmouth-branded clothing and uniforms.

Dartmouth is expected to appeal the decision. If the NLRB’s decision is affirmed on appeal, it would pave the way for college basketball players to vote to unionize.

For more information on employment matters and personnel classification, please contact us at info@mnklawyers.com.

This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.