HR Strange But True!
July 13, 2006

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently decided whether prison inmates are entitled to the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Douglas R. Loving, who is serving a 20-year sentence in a Texas prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child, contends he is entitled to the federal minimum wage for work he performed as a drying machine operator in the prison laundry, the Associated Press reports.

In court, he argued that he meets the test for employee status under the FLSA and that the law has no specific minimum-wage exemption for prisoners.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which covers, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, rejected his arguments.

"We join these other circuits and hold that a prisoner doing work in or for the prison is not an 'employee' under the FLSA and is thus not entitled to the federal minimum wage."

In ruling against Loving, the appeals court also cited a recent ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals: "The reason the FLSA contains no express exception for prisoners is probably that the idea was too outlandish to occur to anyone when the legislation was under consideration by Congress."

Loving also argued that the prison's system of employing inmates is discriminatory, but the court rejected that argument as well.

Sources: Associated Press and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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