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Court: True volunteers aren’t covered by Title VII

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Except under very limited circumstances, volunteers aren’t considered employees under Title VII. That means they can’t sue for things like sexual harassment.

Recent case: In exchange for Rachel’s service as a volunteer fire­­fighter, she received training, a uniform, a life insurance policy and a minimal $2 payment per call. She sued after allegedly being subjected to sexual harassment at the hands of a fellow firefighter.

The agency that managed the volunteers argued it wasn’t liable because it wasn’t Rachel’s employer.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. It adopted for the first time a so-called “threshold-remuneration test,” which requires an actual “hire” before someone is covered by Title VII. Her case was dismissed. (Juino v. Livingston Parish Fire District, No. 12-30274. 5th Cir., 2013)

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