Ulrich v. Alaska Airlines, Inc.
The parties agreed to the applicability of and the Court applied, the six-factor test adopted by the Department of Labor in several Opinion letters, to determine whether trainees are employees under the FLSA.
The six factors which must be met in order for the trainees not to be employees are:
1) the training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
2) the training is for the benefit of the trainees;
3) the trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation;
4) the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees; and on occasions his operations may actually be impeded;
5) the trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period; and
6) the employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent training.
The Court granted Alaska summary judgment, finding that Alaska’s training program meets all six requirements of the six-factor Department of Labor test. The Court therefore followed the American Airlines and TWA cases from the Fifth and Eighth Circuit Courts of Appeals in ruling that the flight attendant training program conducted by Alaska Airlines does not constitute compensable “work” under the FLSA. Additionally the Court held that the training time does it constitute work within California for which compensation is due under California labor law.