Turkish Law Blog

Competent Turkish Court on Unpaid Wages of Professional Athletes

Asuman Gözüaçık Asuman Gözüaçık/ Sapienza Università di Roma
18 December, 2020
762

1. Introduction

A professional athlete is a sportsman who has made a written contract with a sports club and is paid more by the club than his expenses for his/her sports activities. Although there is a controversial situation in the doctrine for years regarding the unpaid wages derived from the contract concluded between professional athletes and sports clubs; this issue is solved by the Labor Courts Law No. 7036, which entered into force on 25.10.2017 and by the decision numbered 2020 / 7165E. 2020 / 5239K. dated 01.10.2020 of the 3rd Law Department of the Supreme Court. In this article, we will try to explain the place of professional athletes under the Turkish Labor Law and the jurisdiction responsible for the collection of unpaid wages arising from the contract concluded between athletes and sports clubs.

II. Professional Athletes under Turkish Labor Law

As we mentioned above in the definition, the professional athlete executes sports activities for a fee by signing a written contract with a sports club. In this context, the professional athlete gains the status of employee, and the sports club the employer. However, Article 4 titled "Exceptions" of the Turkish Labor Law No. 4857 states that;

“-The provisions of this Law are not applied in the following works and business relations;

  1. g) About athletes,

… ”

By the article mentioned above, athletes are excluded from the scope of the Turkish Labor Law. As a result of this regulation, athletes will not be able to file a reemployment lawsuit arising from the Labor Law, nor can they claim compensation such as severance and notice pay. Before the Labor Courts Law numbered 7036 entered into force on 25.10.2017, athletes could claim their unpaid wages by applying to the Civil Courts of General Jurisdiction within the scope of the provisions of the contracts of service regulated by the Turkish Code of Obligations. However, with the enactment of the Labor Courts Law on 25.10.2017, the discussions on this issue ended.

III. Turkish Labor Courts Law No.7036

Article 5 titled "Duty" of the Labor Courts Law No. 7036, which entered into force on 25.10.2017 states that;

 

“(1) Labor Courts deals with lawsuits and affairs which related to;

a) Journalists subject to Law No. 5953, seafarers subject to Law No. 854, employees and employers subject to the Labor Law No. 4857 of 22/5/2003 or all kinds of legal disputes arising from the law or the contract between employees and employers or the employer representatives who subject to the service contracts regulated in the Sixth Part of the Second Part of the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098 dated 11/1/2011,

b) the disputes arising from the social security legislation in which the Social Security Administration or Turkish Employment Agency is a party to ,except for appeal to administrative fines or legal disputes derived from the 5510 Law temporary Article 4,

c) Disputes in which the labor courts are been authorized by other laws,"

With the provision of this law, the labor courts are assigned to deal with all kinds of legal disputes derived from the employment relationship and arising from the law or the service contracts regulated in the Turkish Code of Obligations between the employee and the employer or employer's representatives.

In this context, after the promulgation date of the Labor Courts Law, the labor courts are in charge of all kinds of legal disputes between athletes and sports clubs arising from the law or the contract concluded between athletes and sports clubs.

IV. The Decision of the 3rd Law Department of the Supreme Court Numbered 2020/7165E. 2020/5239K. Dated 01.10.2020

The incident subject to the relevant decision, which published in the Official Gazette dated 18 November 2020 and numbered 31308, of the 3rd Law Department of the Supreme Court, the plaintiff professional athlete commenced execution proceedings against the defendant sports club related to unpaid wages which arising from the service contract concluded between the plaintiff and the defendant. In the lawsuit of annulment of the objection which filed upon the objection made by the defendant, the defendant sports club argued that there was a provision in the 8th article of the contract and that the disputes would be examined by the basketball federation and the arbitration made as a first objection. By the decision of the Domestic Court, case has dismissed due to the arbitration clause in the contract, and the final judgment has been appealed for the sake of law by the Chief Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court.

In the appellate review carried out by the 3rd Legal Department of the Supreme Court, it is stated that the Labor Courts are in charge due to Article 5 of the  Labor Courts Law No. 7036 on legal disputes arising from the law or the contract between employees and employers or the employer representatives who subject to the service contracts regulated in the Sixth Part of the Second Part of the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098 dated 11/1/2011.

In terms of the incident subject to appellate review, the 3rd Legal Department of the Supreme Court; stating that the plaintiff has served as a professional athlete in the defendant Sports Club in accordance with the service contract, regarding the the Law numbered 7036 entered into force on 25.10.2017, and the lawsuit was filed on 18.09.2018; While this issue should be taken into consideration ex officio by the Domestic Court and a decision of non-jurisdiction should be given; deciding to “dismiss the case” upon the first objection of the arbitration was against the procedure and the law and the appeal request of the Supreme Court Chief Public Prosecutor's Office for the sake of law was accepted.

V. Conclusion

With the enactment of the Labor Courts Law No.7036, which entered into force on 25.10.2017, all kinds of legal disputes arising from the law or the contract between employees and employers or the employer representatives who subject to the service contracts regulated in the Sixth Part of the Second Part of the Turkish Code of Obligations No. 6098 dated 11/1/2011. Lawsuits to be filed after the promulgation date of the aforementioned Law must be filed at the authorized labor courts.

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