Here’s some good news for nonprofit employers using individuals referred from the court system for community service credits. They’re not employees and therefore you aren’t obligated to pay them under thefor the ‘work’ they do.
Recent case: Three individuals charged with petty criminal offenses like jumping a turnstile and running a red light on a bike signed up for community service work under a law that would see their criminal charges dismissed if they completed their hours. They sued, alleging that they should have been paid minimum wage under the FLSA because they weren’t volunteers.
The court tossed out their case, noting that while they didn’t fit into the volunteer exemption because they each disclaimed any charitable intent, they weren’t employees by default either. They were more like prisoners, who also aren’t employees. (Doyle, et al., v. City of New York, No. 14-CV-2831, SD NY, 2015)