Court rules against security guards suing San Francisco Giants

By David Hutton | Oct 31, 2017

AT&T Park in San Francisco, home of the Giants.  

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) -- Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants scored a legal win when a state appeals court sided with the team, overturning a lower court ruling that denied the team’s request for arbitration in a wage-and-hour claim.

The case was decided Oct. 17 by California Court of Appeals First Appellate District Division Three judges William R. McGuiness, Stuart R. Pollak and Peter J. Siggins.

The San Francisco Baseball Associates LLC had appealed a ruling by the San Francisco County Superior Court, rejecting the team’s appeal to compel arbitration in a wage dispute with George Melendez, who has worked as a security guard employed by the Giants at AT&T Park since 2005.

According to Melendez’s complaint, the team failed to pay security guards on a regular basis for specific jobs, which included baseball games and other events.

While the employees were entitled to immediate compensation, the complaint alleges that they frequently would be paid at the end of a long homestand, at the end of the season or other events.

The employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and the terms of Melendez’s employment is detailed by the agreement. Security personnel must meet several employment qualifications, including securing a state guard card.

The guards remain on the team’s payroll between homestands and seasons unless their employment is terminated by resignation or under terms outlined in the bargaining agreement.

According to court records, Melendez had worked regularly for the team in 2015 and 2016.

The security personnel made their complaints without following grievance procedures outlined in the bargaining agreement, the court decided.

According to Melendez’s complaint, the security guards are hired by the team “intermittently during the baseball season and throughout the rest of the calendar year.”

Moreover, the team doesn’t comply with the state Labor Code section 201, failing to immediately pay intermittent employees on the last day of work, failing to pay similar employees during the last game of a homestand or at the end of a special event, such as a concert, according to the complaint.

In a decision, written by Pollak, the judges found that the dispute between the team and Melendez doesn’t fall under the arbitration provisions of the bargaining agreement.

“The complaint is this action does not allege a violation of the terms of the CBA," Pollak wrote. "The complaint is based solely on the alleged violation of Labor Code section 201. The trial court correctly ruled that the alleged statutory violation does not come within the scope of the contractual arbitration provision.”

The lower court maintained that in order to resolve the issue, it wasn’t necessary for an interpretation of the CBA, but instead focused on whether the security personnel are dismissed within the definition outlined in Labor Code section 201 at the conclusion of a season, homestand or other event.

Ultimately, the appeals court ruled that the length of employment has to be defined by what is detailed in the CBA.

Citing Newberry v. Pacific Racing Association, the court noted that the case requires interpretation of the CBA, and the dispute must be resolved under grievance procedures outlined in the agreement.

As a result, the court overturned the Superior Court ruling rejecting the motion to compel arbitration.

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