Minimum wage-prison labor HEADNOTES Facts A prisoner being detained pending his criminal trial was required by those in charge to serve as a translator between other prisoners and prison personnel. The prisoner claimed that he was promised compensation for the services but was never given any. He sued the prison authorities for violation of federal minimum wage requirements and for interfering with his constitutional rights. Decision The Fair Labor Standards Act only protects employees. Pretrial detainees are similar to convicted prisoners in that they lack the autonomy, privacy, and market options that characterize employees. The plaintiff, therefore, was not in an employment relationship with the prison. His activity served the institution's mission and was not a commercial venture. Hence, the Fair Labor Standards Act did not entitle him to payment of the minimum wage. Nor did his manda- tory rendering of translator services violate his constitutional rights as a prisoner since it was not punitive in nature and posed no risks to his health or safety. The effect of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was not weighed by the court because the plaintiff did not rely on it at the trial court level. Law Applied Constitution of
International Labour Law Reports Online – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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