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MUNICIPAL LAW: CHRO concludes that volunteer firefighter is not employee for purposes of antidiscrimination statutes

MUNICIPAL LAW: CHRO Concludes That Volunteer Firefighter Is Not Employee For Purposes Of Antidiscrimination Statutes

The complainant’s minor daughter was a volunteer firefighter with the Echo Hose Company. On behalf of her minor daughter, complainant filed a discrimination and retaliation Complaint predicated on Title VII and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) against the company and the City of Shelton.

The City moved to strike the complaint on the basis that the complainant was not an “employee” within the meaning of either statute. The commissioner grants the motion. Both statutes define the term “employee” the same way. The commissioner rejects the complainant’s argument that the common law “right to control” test applies and that her discrimination complaint alleges sufficient facts to establish her status as an employee under that test. The commissioner applies the test articulated by the Second Circuit in Pietras v. Bd. of Fire Comm’rs of the Farmingville Fire Dist., 180 F.3d 468, 473 (2d Cir. 1999), wherein the court found that “an employment relationship within the scope of [the statutes alleged] can exist even when the putative employee receives no salary so long as he or she gets numerous job-related benefits,” and that “the question of whether someone is or is not an employee under [these statutes] turns on whether he or she has received direct or indirect remuneration from the alleged employer.”

The commissioner concludes that training, education, experience, equipment and eligibility for other … positions” does not amount to direct or indirect remuneration and are not salary substitutes sufficient to confer employment status on the complainant recipient. The motion to strike is granted.

CHRO v Echo Hose Ambulance and City of Shelton, CHRO no. 1130518 ( 1/10/13).