A Race to the Courtroom

Marathon, not a sprint

With the ever growing popularity of Marathons and half marathons in recent times, the debate over the categorization of whether workers of these events are considered volunteers or employees has also hit the ground running.  In recent news, a federal judge in Missouri ruled against the “Competitor Group Inc” request to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that their use of volunteer workers violated federal labor laws.  A St. Louis University law professor named Yvette Joy Liebesman was a volunteer worker at one of their races, and has stated that she was deceived into believing her participation was to benefit non-profit charities rather than a for profit private equity firm.  In their attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed, “Competitor Group Inc” purported that their marathons represented recreational activities in conjunction with charities that would also benefit from these races being held.  Arguments made by “CGI” were not persuasive enough to dismiss these charges, as the federal judge rules there was sufficient cause to move forward with these claims.

Since these types of marathon events have seemed to secure a stronghold within current popular culture, it seems as though more for-profit organizations have been trying to latch on to the volunteer culture that has always existed during these non-profit charity events of the past.  It seems completely understandable and feasible for an individual to put in a hard days labor knowing it is for a pure and honest cause like a charity event or marathon.  Once people find out that the organization hosting the event is turning a profit due to the hard work of volunteers under presumptions of pure charity, one can see how individuals feel they are being taken advantage of and their desire to now do something about it.

I don’t think that the major problem in cases like this would be the fact that there can be volunteer workers helping for-profit organizations runt their events.  Problems arise when these volunteers agree to sacrifice their time under the assumption that their efforts are benefiting pure charity organizations.  Individuals have the right to know how their time is being spent and who is benefiting from their work, whether it is charities, the hosting organization, the runners or all of the above.  As soon as deceit becomes a factor into their agreement to help is as soon as there becomes a fundamental problem with the transparency of true intentions.  Yvette Joy Liebesman completed the first leg of the race, but there is a long amount of the marathon left to complete.

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