I really do get it. People who volunteer at humane societies, shelters, and rescue groups feel like they’re part of important missions. That’s a GOOD thing! Organizations want people to feel “part of”. It leads to higher engagement and mission accomplishment.
But what happens when the relationship between the organization and a volunteer goes bad. Does the volunteer have any options?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Nonprofit organizations are usually public benefit corporations. They belong to the public and are accountable to the public for their mission and conduct. So an unhappy volunteer certainly has options that relate to his or her status as part of that.
But that’s no fun and not all that interesting.
What is? This: a volunteer may have a cause of action under the Civil Rights Act of 1983 if the organization’s actions constitute denying the volunteer rights under the first amendment, e.g. free speech. Check out this great article: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=728 This article was written by a trial attorney and discusses your first amendment right to protest about vile conditions in your local shelter.
What do YOU think? Personally, I’m dying to file one in the Deep South and see how we do.