Ndambi v. CoreCivic, Inc., No. 19-2207 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought by former ICE civil detainees, seeking wages owed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for work performed while detained. The district court dismissed based on the grounds that this circuit and others have declined to extend the FLSA to custodial settings.
The court concluded that appellants' claims are foreclosed by this circuit's precedent and the well-established principles governing the interpretation of the FLSA. The court explained that the FLSA was enacted to protect workers who operate within "the traditional employment paradigm," and persons in custodial detention—such as appellants—are not in an employer-employee relationship but in a detainer-detainee relationship that falls outside that paradigm. The court noted that the FLSA was a congressional creation, and its expansion is a matter for Congress as well. The court explained that what appellants propose is a fundamental alteration of what it means to be an "employee," and if Congress wishes to apply the FLSA to custodial detentions, it is certainly free to do so.