Eleventh Circuit: Volunteering “Perks” Under FLSA


Employers with Employees in AL, FL, and GA


March 12, 2024


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Quick Look

  • Discounted golf rate “perks” offered to volunteers does not constitute “wages in another form” sufficient enough to undermine volunteer status.


In Adams v. Palm Beach County, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a volunteer’s receipt of certain “perks” does not convert them to “employees” under the FLSA. This case was initiated by a group of volunteer attendants at a public golf course who were allowed to play golf at substantially discounted rates. The attendants alleged that their receipt of the discounted golf rates constituted a form of “compensation” that undermined their status as volunteers, and therefore, entitled them to minimum wage under the FLSA and Florida law.


The Court disagreed with the attendants’ argument, instead finding that as a matter of economic reality, the reduced-fee access to various golf clubs could not be considered anything more than a “perk” of volunteering. While certain in-kind benefits may constitute “wages in another form” which would be sufficient to undermine volunteer status, such benefits are usually in the form of goods and services that could substitute for wages under the economic reality test of employment. This typically includes things like food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and/or medical benefits.


Looking at the totality of the circumstances, the Court ultimately determined that the attendants satisfied the other criteria for “volunteers” under the FLSA and Florida law. Despite receiving the discounted golf “perk,” the attendants were properly classified as volunteers and not entitled to minimum wage. The Court stated that to find otherwise would deter public agencies and non-profit enterprises from acknowledging volunteer services with even modest “perks.”

Action Items

  1. Review classification of volunteers, employees, and other workers.
  2. Have appropriate personnel trained on appropriate worker classification and other wage and hour considerations.


Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2024 ManagEase