Monday, July 18, 2011
Readers will recall that I published a law review article on the status of volunteers under employment laws, here. Quite simply, volunteers are usually not covered by our employment laws because those statutes are designed to protect "employees."
Purdham v. Fairfax County Sch. Bd., ____F.3d____ (4th Cir. Mar. 10, 2011), is a recent case which grapples with this issue. The Fourth Circuit held that a high school safety and security assistant, who also holds the position of varsity boys golf coach, is not an employee in his capacity as a coach under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), but rather a volunteer. Accordingly, the plaintiff is not entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. The panel concluded that the services he performs as a coach were completely divorced from those he performs as a safety and security assistant. Although the school district at one point had paid overtime for hours spent on the coaching duties in an effort to comply with FLSA’s evolving legal standards, had allowed the employee administrative leave time for his coaching duties, and had paid a stipend for coaching, none of these actions converted his activities as a coach into activities as an employee for purposes of FLSA.
This case also illustrates that it is not always easy to tell who is a volunteer as this individual received a stipend.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein