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Court Holds Volunteer is NOT an Employee under FEHA

Posted in Disability Discrimination, Discrimination, Labor Law

By:  Chelcey E. Lieber

In Estrada v. City of L.A. (Case No. B242202), the Court of Appeal of California (Second Appellate District) held that Estrada, formerly a volunteer Police Reserve Officer for the City of Los Angeles, was not an employee for purposes of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), even though the City deemed volunteer Police Reserve Officers to be “employees” for the limited purpose of extending them workers’ compensation benefits. The Court held that such benefits are not wages, but simply help make the volunteers whole should they be injured while performing their duties, similar to reimbursing volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses. Moreover, Estrada was never “appointed” to an employee position. Accordingly, the Court held that the trial court properly concluded that Estrada could not maintain a cause of action against the City for disability discrimination under FEHA. The Court’s full opinion can be found here.