U.S. Open Umpires Sue Tennis Association for Overtime Pay

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Four U.S. Open umpires sued the U.S. Tennis Association, claiming the group misclassified them as independent contractors to avoid giving them overtime and other pay.

The umpires, who seek to represent hundreds of U.S. Open umpires going back to the 2005 Open, filed a complaint against the tennis governing body today in federal court in Manhattan. The suit claims the USTA violated federal and state pay laws and seeks unspecified damages on behalf of the umpires.

“Umpires were paid based upon a schedule set and dictated by defendant,” the umpires said in their complaint. “Umpires regularly worked in excess of 40 hours per week but were not properly paid wages due them including but not limited to overtime for hours in excess of 40 hours per week.”

The 2011 U.S. Open is currently under way at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York.

Chris Widmaier, a USTA spokesman, declined to immediately comment on the suit.

The suit was filed by Steven Meyer and Marc Bell, both of whom live in Florida, and Larry Mulligan-Gibbs of Pennsylvania and Aimee Johnson of Louisiana. All have been employed by the USTA as umpires, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs claim the USTA hires umpires for the Open and assigns their work, sets their pay and hours, prescribes a dress code and maintains policies governing umpire conduct on and off the court.

According to the umpires, pay for last year’s Open ranged from $115 a day for USTA sectional or provisional umpires in qualifying matches to $200 a day for gold-badge chair umpires in main-draw matches. Umpires often worked more than eight hours a day, seven days a week, depending on the length of matches and weather delays, they said.

The case is Meyer v. United States Tennis Association, 11-CV-6268, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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