As the United States Open begins this week, many New Yorkers will be closely following the exciting and highly-watched tennis tournament. However, many people may not realize that there is far more drama going on off the courts. Tennis line judges and umpires have filed a lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association for a number of wage violations including unpaid overtime and underpayment.

According to reports, more than 300 tennis officials are invited to the US Open in New York every year to work at the tournament. They have their travel expenses paid for and are also partially compensated for hotel accommodations, food and other various expenses. However, these officials are among the lowest paid umpires in all Grand Slam events. This prompted four officials to file a lawsuit against the USTA.

The four plaintiffs were also seeking class action status and wanted to send out information and notifications to other umpires and line judges who they believed could be eligible to join them. They requested a list of addresses from the organization, but the USTA initially refused.

The USTA was ordered to provide the officials with the address list, however, when a judge ultimately agreed with the umpires. They argued that notifying others is essential because they have been erroneously classified as independent contractors rather than employees. Because of this classification, the tennis officials were not paid proper wages or overtime. In some cases, they were making no more than $115 per day, even when they worked late into the night at extended matches.

The USTA, on the other hand, claims that the officials are working as members of a recreational organization, which means that they are not owed overtime pay.

The four officials who filed the lawsuit say that they are looking for no more than a couple thousand dollars each in unpaid wages and overtime, but the USTA is refusing to budge. And, as if to add insult to injury, the USTA recently announced that they were increasing their budget for the tournaments which means that the players will receive more money for winning. But there is no indication that officials will see any increase for their role in the tournament.

Source: NY Times, "Lawsuit Against U.S.T.A. Addresses Pay for Umpires and Line Judges," John Martin," Aug. 27, 2012