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Seventh Circuit: No Minimum Wage for Civilly Committed Sex Offenders

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that civilly committed sexually violent offenders are not entitled to minimum wage for the labor they perform.

After serving his prison sentence, Paschall L. Sanders, III, was civilly committed to a secure treatment facility, as a sexually violent person, under Wis. Stat. § 980.06.

Apparently, Sanders was initially paid minimum wage for work he performed, but his pay was later cut to $2 to $2.50 an hour.

Sanders brought federal suit, challenging the wage cut under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed the complaint.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed. "Although he does not refer to the Fair Labor Standards Act," (FLSA), the court observed that "it is the obvious basis for a complaint about not being paid the minimum wage."

The court also noted that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 11th, and D.C. Circuits had all held that prisoners are not covered by the FLSA.

The Court then followed Miller v. Dukakis, 961 F.2d 7 (1st Cir. 1992) (per curiam) and Hendrickson v. Nelson, No. 05-C-1305 (E.D. Wis. Aug. 10, 2006); 2006 WL 2334838, in concluding that the FLSA does not cover persons civilly committed as sexually violent offenders. See: Sanders v. Hayden, 544 F.3d 812 (7th Cir. 2008).

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Related legal case

Sanders v. Hayden