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Employee status?

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What is the name of your state? What is the name of your state? california
I'm looking for brief rules regarding volunteers at a martial arts school. what constitues an employee? can someone volunteer regularly, teaching and doing office work at the school without pay? I heard about a school with a volunteer who later sued. Apprently he courts held that he should have been deemed an employee and that he should have been paid. The school was held liable and fined $25,000. I appreciate any advice...thanks!


I'm a Northern Girl
The answer to your question is going to be incredibly fact and state specific. Of course it is possible for organizations to use volunteers but the extent is going to depend on what they will be doing and how often. I think you would be better off contacting the state Department of Labor in your area, giving them the details of what would be included in the volunteer's duties and getting a determination from them.


Senior Member
Another option would be to have the volunteer sign a statement clarifying that he/she is working as a non-paid volunteer of his/her own volition, without pay or compensation in any form and that this arrangement will exist until altered or modified in writing. Also, include that the volunteer worker has no specific hours or specific tasks.


Senior Member
That statement is a good idea if the DOL agrees that the person may work on an unpaid volunteer basis, but it shouldn't be exercised in lieu of contacting the DOL as such a statement will not prevent liability for a wage and hour violation and might even provide evidence of a willful violation which would expose the business owner to puntative fines and penalties.

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