A federal court has ruled that work done by civilly committed sex offenders as part of their treatment program is exempt from the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act ().
Recent case: James Martin lives in a sex offenders treatment community that’s part of a Minnesota program allowing offenders to work. Participants keep half their earnings; the treatment program retains the rest.
Martin sued, alleging he was entitled to all his wages. The program argued it wasn’t an ordinary employer—Martin is more like a prisoner, whose work inside a prison is not covered by the FLSA.
The court concluded that Martin wasn’t covered because the work program was designed specifically for treatment. If it were competing in the open marketplace against other companies, it would have to pay the minimum wage. (Martin v. Benson, No. 11-465, DC MN, 2011)
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