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Issues that affect ministers and churches
Minimum Wage and Overtime
New York court rules Episcopalian church custodian not entitled to overtime or minimum wage under FLSA.
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Key point 8-08.2. The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers pay the minimum wage, and overtime compensation, to employees who work for an enterprise engaged in commerce. There is no exception for religious organizations, but there are exceptions for certain classifications of employees.
Key point 8-08.3. The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers pay the minimum wage, and overtime compensation, to employees who are engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. There is no exception for religious organizations, but there are exceptions for certain classifications of employees.

* A federal district court in New York ruled that a custodian who worked for an Episcopal church was not entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act since the church was not an "enterprise" and the custodian did not qualify for individual coverage. In 1982, a church hired a new custodian (the "plaintiff") to clean the church. The plaintiff worked seven days a week. On Sundays, he worked from 7 a.m. until services ended. On all other days he worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though he often cleaned the church after evening services. His custodial duties included sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming the buildings and bathrooms, removing garbage, flushing the air conditioner, maintaining the boiler, and clearing the sidewalks of trash, leaves, and snow. The plaintiff was on-call at all hours if a problem arose with the electricity, plumbing, air conditioner, or boiler. When a new pastor was hired by the church in 1999, he increased the hours the plaintiff worked by requiring him to turn off the building's alarm at 7 a.m. and turn on the alarm after church functions concluded every evening.

The plaintiff paid the electrical, plumbing, and oil vendors on behalf of the church, purchased cleaning supplies, picked-up church vestments and the pastor's personal clothing from the dry-cleaners located across the street, delivered mail to the post office, and folded 800 church bulletins each week or took the bulletins to a local printing shop. The church reimbursed the plaintiff by check for these church-related purchases.

From 1982 until 2007 the plaintiff lived in the two-bedroom apartment located in a church building. Beginning in 1982, he earned $70 per week in wages and lived in the apartment rent-free. In 1986, the church's finance committee began requiring the plaintiff to pay $250 per month in rent for the apartment. In 2000, the church increased the plaintiff's bi-weekly wage to $519.76. In 2002, the church increased his bi-weekly wage to $625, an amount the pastor believed to be adequate compensation for forty hours of work per week. In addition to his wages, the plaintiff received $50 per event for helping during each event and cleaning afterward. He also received Christmas bonuses, though not every year. No one at the church recorded the hours the plaintiff worked. In 2004, the church paid two additional people to clean the buildings.

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