Thursday, December 16, 2010

University of Minnesota sidesteps minimum wage violations for “volunteer” employees

Have you seen the amazing video of the roof the Metrodome collapsing last weekend?

In need of a temporary home to host this Monday night’s game, the Vikings turned to the University of Minnesota. The problem, though, is that the University’s stadium is under five-foot snow drifts. To clear the field and seating bowl, the University asked for volunteers to work around the clock. ESPN is now reporting that the University will pay any shovelers, which is a very smart move on the school’s part.

The FLSA requires people who perform any work to be paid for all time spent working. Requiring anyone to perform work without pay violates this law. There is no such thing as a volunteer employee. All work hours must be paid hours, at least at the minimum wage (with the limited exception of bona fide interns).

It looks like the University received some sage legal advice before letting any “volunteers” lift any shovels. It is also an excellent example of how spending a few minutes consulting with your attorney could save you a few years of time having your attorney litigate for you.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or

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