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Fourth Circuit Deems School Security Officer Who Coached Teams as FLSA Volunteer

    Client Alerts
  • March 18, 2011

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt employees are entitled to payment of overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a given workweek. Employers sometimes struggle with overtime issues involving employees who serve different roles for the employer during the same week. Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes North Carolina and South Carolina), determined that a public school security officer who also coached the school's golf team was volunteering his services, and was not entitled to overtime pay for time spent on these coaching activities.

In Purdham v. Fairfax Co. School Bd., the plaintiff argued that he was expected to provide after school work, and therefore did not truly volunteer for the coaching job. He also claimed that a coaching stipend provided by the school demonstrated that this was not a true volunteer activity.

The Fourth Circuit rejected these claims, affirming a grant of summary judgment for the school. The court concluded that the plaintiff was not coerced to coach, and that he did so for personal reasons. His coaching duties were distinguishable from his regular work duties, and the fact that the school occasionally allowed him to use paid administrative leave during the work day does not affect this analysis. Finally, the stipend provided was not tied to hours spent coaching, and was deemed by the court not to constitute meaningful compensation for actual time spent on coaching activities.

This case's guidance is limited to public agencies. Private employers, including non-profit organizations, have a much more difficult time classifying an employee as a volunteer for certain activities under the FLSA. If the work in question directly benefits the employer, is coerced in any way, or is related to the employee's regular job duties, it will be considered working time for overtime purposes.