• Home
  • Topics
  • Sports
  • Olympic
  • Creating a level playing field? Athletes turning to courts to protect their employment law rights

Creating a level playing field? Athletes turning to courts to protect their employment law rights

Creating a level playing field? Athletes turning to courts to protect their employment law rights
By Nick Marshall, Shubham Jain, Martin Zhou, Daniel Delimihalis, Marcelo Lopes, Andy Reynolds, Matthew Devey, Tim Werhann

Athletes are bringing claims to assert their statutory employment rights in courts and employment tribunals, from Australia to the United States (and many places in between). Cases show a global trend of athletes taking action to protect their non-contractual rights and using the protections and benefits conferred on them by general employment laws.

The English Employment Tribunal, in a recent case brought by former professional basketball player Will Hall against British Basketball League club, the London Lions, said that “…[The Club’s] position was that although the Claimant was an employee he was not entitled to holiday as professional basketball players did not take holiday. Unfortunately for the Respondent this was not the legal position.[1] Ruling in favour of Hall on his claims for wrongful dismissal, holiday pay and other breaches of employment law, the Employment Tribunal’s message to sports teams, clubs (and federations) was clear – professional athletes can be employees, too, and as employers they need to play by the rules.

Many teams, clubs and federations (particularly those without sophisticated and well-resourced HR and legal departments) lack awareness of their employment law responsibilities and are ill-equipped to comply with their obligations. As the London Lions accepted in the Hall case, “[t]he area of employment rights… was not an area [the club] had great knowledge of…”.[2] Perhaps unsurprisingly, the club’s ambivalence to its obligations meant that Hall succeeded in all his claims before both the Employment Tribunal and the UK’s Employment Appeal Tribunal (the EAT)[3].

It is not only in the UK that athletes are taking action. While employment law varies across jurisdictions, cases throughout the world show both the common struggles athletes have in proving that they are workers or employees with employment law rights and protections in the first place, and also the high-profile way that disputes can play out (especially when involving allegations of discrimination, unequal pay and failure to pay statutory minimum wages).

Continue reading this article...

Register with your email and password
Already a member? Sign in

Get access to all of the expert analysis and commentary at LawInSport including articles, webinars, conference videos and podcast transcripts.  Find out more here.

No video selected.

Related Articles

About the Author

Shubham Jain

Shubham Jain

Legal Advisor, Linklaters

Shubham is an India-qualified lawyer based in Linklaters’ London office. He has
completed his Masters degree in law from the University of Cambridge. His areas of
interests and engagement include commercial and public law issues in sports.

Nick Marshall

Nick Marshall

Managing Associate, Linklaters

Nick is an employment lawyer based in Linklaters’ London office. As part of a broad international practice, he has particular expertise in complex and high-value workplace disputes, as well as advising clients on disciplinary processes and investigations (both internal and regulatory). Nick writes for Linklaters’ sports law blog, SportingLinks, on the intersection between sport and employment law.

Daniel Delimihalis

Daniel Delimihalis

Managing Associate, Linklaters

Daniel is an employment lawyer based in Linklaters’ London office. As an Australian
qualified lawyer, Daniel has broad experience advising sophisticated clients within the Asia-Pacific region and within Europe on a broad range of employment issues.  Daniel’s practice includes advising on executive employment issues including on-boarding senior executives, the enforcement of post-employment obligations, and employment issues arising from complex international merger and acquisition scenarios. In his spare time, Daniel fanatically follows the Australian cricket team.

Martin Zhou

Martin Zhou

Managing Associate, Zhao Sheng Law Firm

Martin is an employment lawyer at Zhao Sheng Law Firm, Linklaters’ joint operation
partner in Shanghai. Martin has solid experience in advising clients on a wide range of employment and incentive matters under PRC law. He is also sophisticated in
representing multi-national companies in contentious employment matters in front of labour arbitration tribunals and courts in mainland China.

Marcelo Lopes

Marcelo Lopes

Foreign Attorney, Linklaters

Marcelo is an associate in Linklaters’ global U.S. practice. He focuses his practice on M&A, banking and capital markets transactions, advising clients from multiple industries on M&A transactions, project finance and complex corporate transactions. Marcelo holds an LL.M. degree from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar

Andy Reynolds

Andy Reynolds

Law Clerk, Linklaters

Andy is a law clerk in Linklaters’ global U.S. practice, based in New York. She earned her Juris Doctor from The George Washington Law School, where she served as Editor-in-Chief for the Business and Finance Law Review.

Matthew Devey

Matthew Devey

Partner, Linklaters

Matthew leads the employment and benefits team in Linklaters’ Frankfurt office. He advises clients on all aspects of German and cross-border employment law issues,including advising on transfers of undertaking, staff changes and exits, and management SportingLinks.

Tim Werhann

Tim Werhann

Associate, Linklaters

Tim is an employment lawyer based in Linklaters’ Frankfurt office. He advices clients on all and employment law meet.

Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.

Courses

Legal Advisors

Upcoming Events

There are no up-coming events

Copyright © LawInSport Limited 2010 - 2021. These pages contain general information only. Nothing in these pages constitutes legal advice. You should consult a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. LawInSport is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.