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Federal Judge Announces Wageless Job Opening, Calls Working for Free a 'Moral Commitment'

The injustice of free labor in our own court system.

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Without getting into a thicket of legal technicalities, I’ll just note that, after studying both the relevant statute and its implementing administrative regulations, I believe this argument violates both the letter and the spirit of the FLSA. Hiring one person to do a paid job, while at the same time hiring another person through exactly the same hiring process to do exactly the same job, but not paying him or her to do it, is precisely what the statute was designed to prohibit. (Ironically, Judge Martinez requires his applicants to “have high ethical standards and be committed to the rule of law.”)

Beyond the legalities, there’s the moral question of whether this is acceptable behavior. For high government officials to prey on the desperation of the lost generation in this way is a sorry sight – especially when one considers the structural effects of this kind of thing. Obviously, creating a class of prestigious door-opening jobs that don’t feature actual salaries is just another way of ensuring that only the children of the rich have access to such jobs.

Which brings me to the mordant punch line: Before becoming a federal judge, William Martinez was a lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


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