Political campaigns are labor intensive efforts. Campaign workers can be volunteers, paid independent contractors or employees. Campaigns may also contract with other entities, such as another campaign committee or party committee, to provide labor. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FSLA”) and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law provide that certain employees must be paid hourly minimum wages and time and a half for work in excess of forty hours per week. Maryland employers also have an obligation to pay unemployment taxes and obtain workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
Campaign workers put in long hours, especially as an election approaches. However, many campaigns do not pay time and a half for work in excess of forty hours per week. In November 2016, a group of alleged non-exempt workers brought a class action against the Democratic National Committee and the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee based upon FLSA violations. The case, which has had several rounds of motions and briefing, is still pending.
Whether a worker is covered by the FLSA and/or the Maryland Wage and Hour Law is not crystal clear. For example, even if a worker is deemed by the employer to be an independent contractor, the worker may be deemed to be an employee under federal or Maryland law. Also, corporate officers and supervisors can be held liable for FLSA and Maryland Wage and Hour Law violations.