Monday, November 10, 2014

Volunteers, Interns, Independent Expenditures

It has just come to my attention that for profit businesses should never take on volunteers and must be very careful bringing on interns unless they are paid minimum wage and taxes.

According to the Department of Labor an unpaid internship must meet all the following criteria: 
The internship is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
It's for the benefit of the intern.
The intern doesn’t replace paid employees.
The employer doesn’t benefit from work the intern is doing, as on “on occasion its operations may actually be impeded”.
The intern isn't promised a job at the end [unpaid ”tryouts" aren't allowed].
Both the intern and their boss understand it's an unpaid position.

According to David Yamada, professor of law at Suffolk University, “It’s fair to say most private sector employers who employ volunteers are violating the law."
In an SF Gate article September 21 2014 Debra Saunders reports a case where the Department of Industrial Relations assessed an East Bay Winery $115550 in fines, back wages and penalties for having volunteers pick grapes and pour wine.  The employer grosses $200000 and nets $11000.  The article points out that he has a legal form for volunteers that reads: “ I am donating my labor free by choice.”

On another note, there was an interesting article by John Diaz in yesterday’s Chronicle about Independent Expenditures and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  As you all know, Independent Expenditures cannot coordinate with the candidates or backers or opponents of ballot measures.  What was interesting however is that Mr. Diaz talked about a recent campaign in North Carolina where Tom Tillis, a Senate candidate, emailed a detailed strategy memo to supporters including a wish list of spending plans for Asheville and Charlotte markets.  Mr. Tillis won a  very close election over Kay Hagan.  The total amount spent in the election was $113 million, the most expensive race in the country, with outside groups raising $81 million of the $113 million.

Scott Hauge
Small Business California
2311 Taraval Street
San Francisco, CA  94116

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