ERIC Number: EJ801324
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun-20
Reference Count: N/A
For Liability Purposes, Is a Student Worker an Employee?
Franke, Ann H.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n41 pA26 Jun 2008
Brian Lindsay, a chemistry major, participated in a summer research program at St. Olaf College. The 10-week program required him to work in a laboratory under the direction of a chemistry professor. Lindsay received a $3,500 stipend and free housing. On July 11, 2002, he was performing a procedure to clean, or "quench," a flask. The flask exploded, spraying chemical materials at Lindsay and setting his clothes on fire. He suffered severe burns. Later, in a Minnesota state court, he sued St. Olaf College for negligence. St. Olaf sought to have Lindsay's lawsuit thrown out, without a trial, on the basis of his employment status. The core legal question was whether, at the time he was injured, Lindsay was a student furthering his education or an employee performing work for the college. In a decision this January, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided that it needed more facts to resolve the issue. It ruled that Lindsay deserved a trial on the question of whether he was an employee or a student. According to the court, the key distinctions between a student worker who remains a student and one who becomes an employee are "the purposes and character of the work assigned and performed by that student." The author suggests that clarifying in advance whether the student is an employee can help avert litigation or, if an injured student files suit, provide evidence of the institution's intentions.
Descriptors: Employment Level, State Courts, Court Litigation, College Students, Student Employment, Legal Responsibility
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://chronicle.com/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota