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Why is Rimas Sports suing the MLBPA?

Bad Bunny at MLB's 2022 All-Star celebrity softball game - Image Credit: MLB

The following article first appeared in Microjuris.com in Spanish. It was translated and edited for our English dominant readers. The original Spanish article can be read here – Rimas Sports suing MLBPA

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By Valeria Alicea Guzmán

The sports agency Diamond Sports LLC, better known as Rimas Sports, filed a lawsuit against the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

The firm Rimas Sports, founded by Bad Bunny, Noah Assad, and Jonathan Miranda, alleges that the MLBPA exceeded the powers conferred on it by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) due to the prohibitions and sanctions it imposed.

According to the lawsuit, the MLBPA issued a disciplinary notice against William Arroyo, an agent affiliated with Rimas Sports, as well as Assad and Miranda, who had applied to become certified as agents.

Following the notice, they indicate that Arroyo was decertified, and Assad and Miranda were prevented from applying to become certified MLBPA agents. Additionally, they allege that all MLBPA-certified agents were categorically prohibited from working or associating with Arroyo, Miranda and Assad, or any entity affiliated with them.

In the lawsuit, the agency states that the union does not have the authority to prohibit certified agents from associating with Rimas Sports. It is further alleged that the union also does not have the authority to prohibit such agents from representing players in matters unrelated to their Major League Baseball (MLB) employment agreements or from associating with entities such as Rimas Entertainment, which is not a sports agency. The plaintiff claims damages under article 1536 of the Civil Code and for contractual interference.

What is the role of the National Labor Relations Act?

In the complaint, Rimas Sports reported that the NLRA grants the MLBPA the authority to bargain collectively on behalf of all Major League players. It highlights that the law gives the union the power to collectively negotiate salaries, work hours or conditions of employment of the players. The lawsuit details that it is under this law that the MLBPA has the authority to certify the agents who carry out said representation and negotiation functions between individual players and the clubs.

Likewise, Rimas Sports highlighted that the MLBPA regulations expressly establish that the union only certifies individuals as agents and not companies or entities. Therefore, it alleged that the restrictions imposed by the union exceed the scope of the authority conferred by the NLRA when sanctioning Rimas Sports and its affiliates, since said entities do not have the possibility of being certified and were not the subject of the disciplinary process carried out against individuals.

They also argued that MLBPA negotiations are limited to agreements with MLB and minor league (MiLB) clubs. Rimas expressed that the objective is to represent athletes not only in the MLB field, but in other types of businesses with brands and sponsors. Likewise, the agency explains, in the lawsuit, that they seek to provide other opportunities to players to have other types of income.

Given the sanctions imposed by the MLBPA, the plaintiff seeks to have the court determine the scope of the MLBPA’s authority under the NLRA and whether it has the power to regulate industries that are not related to baseball. Likewise, they require the judicial forum to determine whether the union has the power to prevent agents from associating or working with unregulated companies. The plaintiff also filed a request for provisional interdict and preliminary injunction.

For Rimas Sports, MLBPA’s actions are aimed at putting the agency out of business. The lawsuit alleges that, for approximately two years, the union pursued a discriminatory, biased, and predetermined investigation toward Rimas Sports.

In 2021, Noah Assad, Jonathan Miranda and Bad Bunny founded the Rimas Sports agency with the aim of building a marketing firm focused on seeking greater representation for the Latin American community in the world of sports.

Rimas Sports currently represents 68 players of which 14 play in the MLB and the rest in MiLB.

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