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Court Finds Volunteer Firefighters to be “Employees” for the Purpose of Determining Eligibility Under FMLA/FLSA

A fire department dispatcher filed suit against his employer under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for allegedly violating his right to protected leave. The employer filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the employee was not eligible for leave under the FMLA because it did not employ at least 50 employees. At that time, the employer employed 41 employees, excluding 25-30 "volunteer" firefighters who were not required to respond to any emergency calls, but who were paid $15 per hour for the time they did spend responding to a call or maintaining equipment. The volunteers were not considered employees by the department, and thus, did not receive health insurance, sick or vacation time, or social security benefits, but the volunteers did have the ability to be promoted or discharged. More ›