Volunteers for Profit?
U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Chen v. Major League Baseball, a class action asserting wage rights for volunteers at the MLB All Star Fan Fest. Judge John Koetel dismissed the Complaint on the basis that FanFest was an activity exempt from FSLA as a recreational enterprise, neatly sidestepping the main question of whether the FanFest workers were “volunteers” who could be paid in tee shirts instead of wages. Don’t expect the issue of “volunteer” vs. “employee” and the rights that accompany those classifications to go away; it is likely to be the next wave of mass wage and hour litigation. While “unpaid internships” continue to be on the forefront of wage and hour litigation, for profits and nonprofits should act proactively NOW to ensure they are in compliance with classification requirements before being hit with a suit for wages or other benefits of employment.