Many have volunteered in some way or another. Volunteers seek to help others and to improve themselves. Unfortunately, if volunteers are discriminated against due to membership in a protected class, whether actual or perceived, they have very limited protections afforded to them.
Few jurisdictions have examined what, if any, protections against discrimination should be available to volunteers. Federal circuit courts are conflicted regarding the circumstances under which volunteers should be protected pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A small number of states have examined whether volunteers should be protected under state public accommodation anti-discrimination statutes, with an even smaller number concluding that they should be protected under limited circumstances. Nevertheless, none of these solutions would be sufficient in Massachusetts because the protections they provide are so narrowly applied.
Massachusetts has not examined whether anti-discrimination protections should be expanded for volunteers. When someone is not allowed to volunteer, he is denied multiple benefits he would receive by volunteering. This Note argues that when someone is not allowed to volunteer at a place of public accommodation because of his membership or perceived membership in a protected class, he should be protected under the Massachusetts public accommodation anti-discrimination law without the limitations that are present in other states.
Joseph D. Greenhalgh, CIVIL RIGHTS/ANTI-DISCRIMINATION—I DIDN’T VOLUNTEER FOR THIS: A SOLUTION FOR PROTECTING VOLUNTEERS FROM DISCRIMINATION IN MASSACHUSETTS, 39 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 177 (2017), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol39/iss1/6