Kentucky Has Few Rules, Little Oversight For Volunteer Deputes

LOUISVILLE, KY – When Chris Mattingly was pulled over in Louisville last year, he immediately tried to show officers he was one of their own: a special deputy with the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Department. While still in his car, Mattingly produced a special deputy badge and even called Sheriff Dave Greenwell to verify his status. He was cited at the time for possession of marijuana, and last month he…

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Volunteer Firefighters Can Be Employees For Purposes Of FMLA, FLSA

Paul Mendel was a police dispatcher for the City of Gibraltar, Michigan. When he was fired, he sued the City, claiming violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). At the time Mendel was terminated from his position, the City employed 41 individuals, excluding its “volunteer” firefighters. According to the Fire Chief’s estimate, the City typically had between 25 and 30 volunteer firefighters. The volunteer firefighters were required…

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Volunteers Do Not Necessarily Become Employees When Benefits Are Provided

Frank Estrada was a reserve police officer for the City of Los Angeles. The City considers reserves to be volunteers, not employees. However, the City does provide workers’ compensation benefits to reserves. For example, in 1995, while on duty, Estrada was involved in a traffic collision and sustained leg and back injuries. In 1996, while on duty, Estrada again was involved in a traffic collision and injured his right…

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Volunteer Firefighters Have No Property Right To The Job

Brian Baker, Brian Jenkins, Gary Jenkins, and Brandon Jenkins were all volunteer firefighters for the City of Stanford, Kentucky. In 2006, they became concerned about the safety and reliability of the equipment being used by the Department. Their concerns included a lack of testing on hoses, a rusted-out battery compartment on a fire engine, faulty wiring systems for engine windshield wipers and headlights, a malfunctioning air tank, and a…

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