Football Players – NOT Seasonal Employees

By Sandra Weigel Kokal

In follow-up to our prior posting – the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently issued its Decision regarding the precedent that professional football players are “seasonal employees” under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. In the case of Pittsburgh Steelers Sports Inc v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Trucks), Attorney Baumann had argued that Mr. Trucks signed a yearly contract with the Steelers and as such was required to perform year-round obligations for the team. In opposition, the Steelers had argued Mr. Trucks was just a seasonal employee. 

The Court agreed with Attorney Baumann’s arguments. In rejecting the Steelers’ arguments and prior case law, the Court stated the facts and terms of Mr. Truck’s contract demonstrate that he was not a seasonal employee. Specifically, the Court stated Mr. Trucks’ contract covered 2 football seasons and included a number of performance obligations, which included the following: attend all mini-camps, pre-season training, all meetings, practice sessions, all pre-season, regular season and postseason games, any all-star games, cooperate with news media, attend 10 assigned appearances a year, and he was prohibited from playing football outside of employment. In exchange for performing these obligations, he received a yearly salary for those 2 seasons. Trucks obligations did not limit his activities to just the regular football season; therefore, the Court stated his employment was NOT seasonal. 

The Power of the Civil Justice System

Michael Smerconish of CNN comments on the importance of our modern day Civil Justice System. Though often maligned, it is often to only way to protect the public from future harm as seen in the recent problems with General Motors ignition switches. Companies are not going to jump and say they did something wrong. Often, it is only through a lawsuit that we learn about dangerous conditions affecting the public. Watch his commentary here.


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