Major League Baseball put roughly 2,000 people to work during All-Star weekend in NYC last month and illegally paid them with giveaway items like shirts and hats INSTEAD of cash, so says a new lawsuit.
One of the "volunteers" who worked the event has filed the suit against MLB -- claiming the organization broke the law by failing to pay the "volunteers" actual wages for doing real jobs.
In the suit, John Chen says he worked 17 hours in 4 days at the All-Star Weekend festival -- doing everything from stamping wrists to stuffing flyers into bags and even filing paperwork ... all assignments that would otherwise have to be done by paid employees.
Chen says at the end of the event, he was compensated with a shirt, cap, cinch drawstring backpack, free admission to the FanFest for himself and a guest, a water bottle and a baseball.
Basically, Chen believes the concept of a "volunteer" workforce violates federal and state labor laws -- and the "volunteers" should be paid at least minimum wage ... which, in NY, is $7.25 per hour.
Furthermore, Chen points out that MLB made a killing during the event -- charging $35 per adult ticket, $5 for a bag of chips and $7.50 for lemonade.
Chen is seeking a judgement forcing MLB to end the volunteer work program ASAP -- and pay volunteers who worked at FanFest events dating back to the 2007 All-Star Weekend.
Chen released a statement saying, "I very much enjoyed working at FanFest, but the minimum wage laws are important. People who cannot afford to work for free should be able to have the same experience I had."
A rep for MLB tells us, “We don’t comment on pending litigations."