CALGARY - An Alberta judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit against the Western Hockey League may proceed, making it the second such case against a major junior league in Canada.
The suit contends that WHL players have been paid less than the minimum wage required by law in their regions and asks for back wages, overtime and vacation pay.
Alberta Justice R.J. Hall granted certification to the lawsuit with some conditions on Thursday. He ruled players with the WHL's five U.S. teams four in Washington and one in Oregon were exempt from the class action because they are out of the court's jurisdiction.
Lukas Walter, who played two seasons with the Tri-City Americans based in Kennewick, Wash., was recognized as the representative plaintiff.
The suit argues the standard agreements players sign pay them as little as $35 per week for between 40 to 65 hours of work. The WHL's position is the players are ``amateur student-athletes'' and that it cannot afford to pay the players minimum wage on top of the benefits they receive, which include post-secondary scholarships.
The allegations contained in the suit have not been proven in court. WHL Commissioner, Ron Robison, provided a statement on the WHL website.
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