WSVN — You may have heard of the Birdman. A Miami Heat basketball player with a tattoo or two, and there is also a professional female basketball player who is no stranger to tattoos as well.
Melissa Caplan: “The nick name they gave me is the “Bird Lady” because I have all these tattoo and I resemble him obviously. Now that’s my new name.”
The Birdlady, Melissa Caplan has played women’s professional basketball all over the world.
Melissa Caplan: “Many different leagues Italy, Israel, Peru. I travel around a lot.”
When she heard about a new Bikini Basketball League operating in the United States, she decided to try out for the Miami team.
Melissa Caplan: “And I figured since it’s home I rather say close to my family and play in Miami.”
Melissa made the Miami Spice, becoming one of the stars, even shown on 7Sports.
She loved playing in front of her family and friends and enjoyed playing for the Spice.
Melissa Caplan: “The competition is good. We have a very good team.”
But one thing was not good, the lack of paychecks.
Melissa Caplan: “There is a contract that we are supposed to get paid weekly or bi-weekly. We have not gotten paid.”
When Melissa asked for her paychecks, the teams owner gave her $100. When she asked for the remaining $3,300 she was owed for the six games she had played, the 15 players for the Spice each got an email.
Melissa Caplan: “Saying we are going to get paid 90 days after the season, and that is not even in our contract to get paid 90 day later.”
Melissa says the players were supposed to receive money for other things as well.
Melissa Caplan: “If you scored the most in the games you get extra money. And photo shoots we are suppose to get extra money. We haven’t seen anything but $100.”
After Melissa complained about not getting paid she says she was suspended by the teams owner. When the team needed her back, she returned but the paychecks didn’t show up.
Melissa Caplan: “I’m so tired of it. I’m so tired of it.”
Well Howard, it’s a professional basketball league and Melissa is under contract to the Miami Spice. Legally is this any different that a regular 9-5 job?
Howard Finkelstein: “No. Under the contract she is supposed to be paid weekly or bi-weekly it’s that simple. And if she isn’t paid, Melissa can sue. If she wins under state law she gets double her wages, plus the team has to pay her legal fees, and since it’s in Miami, the county law allows her to get triple the money she is owed.”
We contacted Anton AJ Mcarthur. Not only the owner of the Miami Spice but also the co-owner of the Bikini Basketball Association. He told us he had no comment and hung up.
10 minutes later he called back and apologized. Telling us he had financial issues. That the money he expected from merchandise and television never came in.
He then finished by saying we will handle the rest of this situation internally, thank you for your inquiry. The very next day, the corporation that owned the Miami Spice was dissolved. Mcarthur later told us he planned to re-instate the company. Howard says if they re-form the old corporation, Melissa can collect her money. If it’s new corporation she wont.
Howard Finkelstein: “When you work for a corporation and it’s dissolved, you are out of luck. The people who owned the corporation are not personally responsible for any money the company owes. That’s not fair to people like Melissa, but the law was designed to encourage people to open businesses.”
Legally Melissa may never get her $3,300 playing for her hometown Miami Spice. A financial disaster but there was one good thing, the Birdlady, made new fans in her old neighborhoods.
Melissa Caplan: “I go outside in Miami … ‘Oh, I have seen you on TV can I get an autograph?’ So it’s a good feeling.”
Patrick Fraser: “Good feelings though, wont pay the rent. Howard says if you work for a corporation that shuts down you can’t go after the owners. But there is an exception. If the owners give you a personal guarantee then they have to pay you even though the corporation is out of business, but make sure that guarantee is in writing when you are hired. Don’t take their word for it.”
Feel like you are being bounced around? Wanna turn it over to someone? Shoot it to us. Hopefully when we get it, it will be a slam dunk.