School sports officials in Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit last week against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors.
Plaintiffs Charles Ruslavage and Mario Seneca are seeking unpaid wages and overtime as well as liquidated damages in the case, filed Dec. 8, which seeks class-action status, according to court records. The lawsuit estimates there are more than 13,200 registered sports officials in the class.
The lawsuit follows a July National Labor Relations Board ruling that found that lacrosse officials were employees of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and not independent contractors.
“Weighing all the incidents of the officials’ relationship with PIAA, we affirm the Regional Director’s finding that PIAA has not met its burden of proving that the officials are independent contractors rather than employees,” according to the NLRB ruling. “In particular, we find that the officials’ employee status is well substantiated by the extent of PIAA’s control over the officials, the integral nature of the officials’ work to PIAA’s regular business, PIAA’s supervision of the officials, the method of payment, and the fact that the officials do not render their services as part of an independent business.”
In the new lawsuit, Ruslavage and Seneca argued the organization required officials to be at events without pay and didn’t pay overtime. Ruslavage, of Cannonsberg, Pa., has worked as a sports official since September 2004; Seneca, a resident of Wexford, Pa., worked as an official since from March 2000.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has 1,611 member schools and covers most sports, including baseball, basketball and football. As of Tuesday, it had not filed a response to the complaint.
The lawsuit is Ruslavage and Seneca v. Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Inc. Case No. 2:2017cv01598.