Wednesday, September 29, 2021


[T]his memo reiterates, that the scholarship football players at issue in Northwestern University clearly satisfy the broad Section 2(3) definition of employee and the common-law test.  Therefore, those football players, and other similarly situated Players at Academic Institutions, should be protected by Section 7 when they act concertedly to speak out about their terms and conditions of employment, or to self-organize, regardless of whether the Board ultimately certifies a bargaining unit.

In addition, because those Players at Academic Institutions are employees under the Act, misclassifying them as “student-athletes”, and leading them to believe that they are not entitled to the Act’s protection, has a chilling effect on Section 7 activity.  Therefore, in appropriate cases, I will pursue an independent violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act where an employer misclassifies Players at Academic Institutions as student-athletes. 

-- National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, in a memorandum to all Field offices providing updated guidance regarding her position that certain Players at Academic Institutions are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, and, as such, are afforded all statutory protections,, 29 September 2021

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