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VOLUNTEERS ARE NOT EMPLOYEES UNDER
THE ACT SINCE THEY DO NOT WORK FOR
There are no Board cases squarely deciding the issue of whether a volunteer who
performs services for no compensation is an employee under the Act. That is probably
because the proposition is so obvious that it has never been argued. In one instance
where volunteers are specifically mentioned, the Board noted, with apparent approval,
that the Parties stipulated that volunteers were not employees within the meaning of the
Act and excluded them from the unit. St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, 222 NLRB 674, 678 (1976).
However, while there are no cases directly on point, Board and Supreme Court rulings make
clear that the statutory definition of employee requires one who works for wages or a salary.
Thus, in Leland Stanford Junior University, 214 NLRB 621, the Board held that research
assistants in the University physics department were not "employees" because the money they
received was not wages. The Board stated:
"[T]he payments to the RA's are in
the nature of stipends or grants to
permit them to pursue their advanced
degrees and are not based on the skill
or function of the particular individual
or the nature of the research performed
Accordingly, we conclude that the payments
are not wages and the RA's are not
"employees" as defined in Section 2(3)
of the Act.
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