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Unpaid volunteers and interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them for the many hours they work. The practice of classifying employees as “volunteers” to avoid paying wages runs afoul of federal and state wage and hour laws, which require employers to pay all workers whom they “suffer or permit” the minimum wage and overtime. Employers’ failure to compensate volunteers for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) prohibits for-profit, private sector employers from relying on unpaid labor. Even one of the country’s most well-respected labor and employment law-firms advised its own clients and the public that “[u]nder no circumstance will an individual be deemed a ‘volunteer’ when providing services to private, for-profit employers.” Proskauer Rose LLP, June 2011 Employment Law Counseling & Training Newsletter

By contrast, individuals who volunteer or donate their services, usually on a part-time basis, for public service, religious or humanitarian objectives, not as employees and without contemplation of pay, are not considered employees of the religious, charitable or similar non-profit organizations that receive their service. Outten & Golden LLP is committed to ensuring that so-called “volunteers” for for-profit employers are fairly compensated for their work. To learn more about our class action litigation on behalf of unpaid workers, please peruse the information in the case-specific tabs above, or contact us directly.

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Should you have been paid for your unpaid labor?

If you have performed unpaid volunteer work for a for-profit company during the last six years, we would like to talk to you.  Please complete our questionnaire and a member of Outten & Golden LLP’s legal team will contact you.  Entry-level jobs are disappearing. Fight back against unpaid work.

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