Is it legal to take out pay from an employee and call it ‘volunteer hours’

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal to take out pay from an employee and call it ‘volunteer hours’

My mother works for a non-profit thrift store.
Every month the employer takes out 5 hours
from her paycheck and calls it ‘volunteer
hours’. She did not agree to this nor does she
want it as she is only working part-time
anyways. Is this legal for the employee to do

Asked on September 18, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is not even remotely legal. An hourly employee must be paid for all hours worked and cannot be forced to work for free or donate her time. Your mother could contact the state or federal department(s) of labor to file a complaint: she should be entitled to unpaid back wages and to be paid for this time in the future. She could also retain an employment law attorney to help her recover unpaid wages, but since the department's help is free, that would be a good place to start.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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