Nassar to review job designation for tennis players


Ahmad nassarthe new executive director of the Association of Professional Tennis Playersplans to take formal steps to determine whether tennis players are employees or independent contractors.

Professional Tennis players have long been classified as independent contractors, not employees. The distinction is important for many reasons, chief among them being that independent contractors cannot unionize or engage in strikes or collective bargaining. Only employees can do this.

Nassar was named the first executive director of the PTPA in August. In a high-profile interview, Nassar said the independent contractor designation is something he plans to explore. He said his understanding is that this designation has never been challenged. “So this structure that’s there right now hasn’t been stress tested,” he said. “No court, no independent judicial body, has faced a challenge that squarely deals with this.”

Nasar is considering hiring legal counsel to look into the matter. He said this is something that should be addressed by the PTPA as it begins its mission to improve the lives of tennis players, but he added firmly that he does not take sides on the outcome of the dispute. issue of employees versus independent contractors.


“I I don’t presuppose anything,” Nassar said. “All I’m saying is that these issues haven’t been looked at closely and part of the reason they haven’t been looked at closely is that there hasn’t been a players’ association to represent collective tennis players to ask exactly those kinds of questions.”

In the United States, the National Labor Relations Commission determines whether workers of any kind are employees and can unionize. When asked if he would go to the NLRB with the matter, Nassar noted that tennis is a global sport, so the judicial body is just another thing to be determined.

A Either way, the matter must be settled, he said.

“And if it’s really about independent contractors and some changes need to be made to the system, we should talk about it,” he said. “And if they are in fact employees, and there are certain obligations that are not being met, we should talk about it.”

Nasar spent 15 years on the business side of the unions, including as chairman of the NFL Players Associationthe marketing and licensing branch of , NFL Players Inc.then as president of OneTeam Partnersa collective licensing company for the NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS and female footballers.

Now Nassar has two new roles, one familiar to him and one different from his professional experience. He is looking to build a group licensing business for tennis players, like the NFL and other team sports players, as CEO of the new company. Alliance of Winnerswhich aims to emulate the success of OneTeam for tennis players, beginning with the establishment of a group licensing program for video games, trading cards and related areas.

Novak Djokovic helped launch the Professional Tennis Players Association in 2020. Images: getty

In his other role as PTPA’s executive director, he oversees working conditions and players’ rights. Even though tennis players are legally determined to be independent contractors, a professional association can give them a voice in matters that affect them. If they are employees and can unionize, the employer would be required to negotiate the terms of employment.

The PTPA was founded by gamers Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil in fall 2020.

The The first order of business is “to try to move all the big issues forward,” Nassar said. “How can we raise prices? How to increase retirement benefits? How do we protect players against abuse? »

Since tennis is a global sport, the PTPA may seek to have a say in geopolitical issues, such as vaccination mandates in some countries and the banning of Russian players in others, Nassar noted.

Nasar is the eldest son of Egyptian immigrants who was born in the United States and grew up in suburban Detroit, where he played on the high school tennis team during his junior year, before moving to center of football. He attended the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago Law School.

In 2009, Nassar was hired by the executive director of the NFLPA ByMaurice Smith of the Patton Boggs law firm where Nassar was a partner and Smith had been a partner. He worked as general counsel for Players Inc., then was promoted to president of the business entity. He worked at the NFLPA for 10 years before co-founding OneTeam Collective and later served as the founding CEO of OneTeam Partners.

Nasar announced he was leaving OneTeam in June in an email to staff. “All the senior executives knew about it long before…because we negotiated the sale of my shares,” Nassar said.

Nasar wouldn’t say how much equity he had in OneTeam or what he gained from selling it. But he said that he, personally, with the billionaire Bill AcmanThe charitable foundation of, Pershing Square Foundation, and Prysm Capital, are equity investors in Winners Alliance.

red bird Capital, which held the largest stake in OneTeam, sold that stake. Meanwhile, Smith is expected to leave the NFLPA next year. “This that’s what motivated me,” Nassar said. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, if RedBird sells out and De Smith doesn’t run for re-election beyond this term, which he said publicly a year ago, it may -be the right time for me to retire. And it turned out that it was.

With Smith leaving the NFLPA, a research firm interviewed candidates. Nassar would not say if he was interviewed. When asked if he would accept the job of executive director of the NFLPA if offered it, he replied, “I’m not going there. I am attached to tennis players. I have a four-year contract and I fully intend to respect this contract.

Liz Mullen can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.


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