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April 22, 2014

Class Action: Minimum Wage for Court-Ordered Community Service?

The New York Daily News reports that a new class action lawsuit is seeking hourly minimum wage for people ordered by the court to complete community service hours (such as sweeping parks or cleaning highways) as part of an arrangement known as adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD).

“The bottom line is that it’s exploitation,” Stoll insisted. “The question is whether it meets the definition of employment under federal and state labor laws — and it does.”

Stoll compared the situation to, “unpaid internships or to a maid who is given free lodging but no salary.”

“He’s misinterpreting the meaning and purpose of an ACD,” said criminal defense attorney Jonathan Strauss.

Strauss noted that an ACD is not tantamount to a dismissal, but is an, “agreement that precludes defendants from bringing a malicious prosecution lawsuit and includes benefits like avoiding court dates and lawyer fees.”

Plaintiffs named in the suit are a Brooklyn man who had to clean the Cross Bay Bridge for one day after a gravity knife was found in his car and another New Yorker who was caught turnstile jumping in 2012.

There were 88,000 reported ACD cases in New York City last year, though the courts couldn’t provide to the Daily News the number that included community service. The current minimum wage in New York City is $8 per hour, although that will increase to $9 in 2015.

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