A New York based food co-op is looking into ending it’s well-known, volunteer-based model over concerns it leaves them open to federal complaints, according to reports Sunday.
Federal agencies have moved to redefined employment under President Barack Obama. The definition has grown to include workers who were not traditionally considered employees. Some members at Honest Weight Food Co-Op are concerned the widening definition puts their business model at risk of federal scrutiny. Food co-ops work on a volunteer and sharing basis with few, if any, traditional employees.
“The time to make a change is now, before we have a complaint filed against us,” Board Member Deborah Dennis told ABC News. “And I don’t think our membership is there yet. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
If changes continue, federal labor officials could classify members as employees rather than volunteers, which could put the co-op in violation of minimum wage and worker protection laws. The same contention has played out with some sharing-economy ventures, like Uber, which rely on contractors instead of employees.
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