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Settles FLSA Case
by Daniel V. Johns and Kelly T. Kindig
A recent wage and hour settlement between Hofstra
University and 256 student workers highlights the pitfalls faced by a college
or university employing students.
Last week, a federal judge in New York approved a
settlement of the claims of 256 Hofstra University student employees that the
University failed to pay them minimum wage and overtime, in violation of the
federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Pursuant to the terms of the
settlement, the University will pay nearly half a million dollars to the
Lead plaintiff Lauren Summa alleged that she worked more
than 40 hours per week during the fall semester as the manager of the football
team and in other jobs on campus, yet was paid only a $700 stipend for the
entire semester. In 2008, the court conditionally certified a class of current
and former graduate and undergraduate students who had worked at the University
for the preceding three years.
This case serves as a reminder to all institutions of
higher education that students who are engaged to perform jobs for the
institution should be treated as any other employee and paid in accordance with
federal and state wage and hour laws. This means that, absent an applicable
exemption, students should be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked
and should be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per
workweek. Every student's hours of work also should be tracked and recorded to
ensure compliance with statutory recordkeeping requirements and proper payment of
All institutions of higher education should evaluate
their wage and hour practices with respect to student workers. Additionally, it
is important to keep in mind that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
appears poised to again issue a ruling on the employment status of graduate
teaching and research assistants receiving stipends for performing duties in
connection with their graduate programs. If the NLRB determines that teaching
and research assistants are employees who are entitled to unionize, such a
ruling also could expose colleges and universities to potential liability under
the FLSA, given that universities typically do not employ the same type of
recordkeeping for such assistants as they do for other employees or closely
monitor the number of hours worked by students in connection with graduate
Ballard Spahr has extensive experience with wage and hour
issues in higher education, including issues related to compliance with the
FLSA and state law, payment of overtime and minimum wage, and classification of
employees under the FLSA. For more information, please contact Daniel V. Johns
at 215.864.8107 or email@example.com, Kelly
T. Kindig at 215.864.8652 or firstname.lastname@example.org,
or the lawyer in Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group with whom you work.
Copyright © 2011 by Ballard Spahr LLP
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)
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author and publisher.
This alert is a periodic
publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new
developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal
opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for
general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own
attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.
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