Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1962 No. 106 - Mar 30 1962
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


Persons employed by a nonprofit agriculture fair association authorized and conducted pursuant to chapter 61, Laws of 1961, are not exempt from coverage of the 1961 minimum wage and hour act.

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                  March 30, 1962

Honorable Damon R. Canfield
State Representative, 15th District
Route 1
Granger, Washington

                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 61-62 No. 106

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested an opinion from this office concerning a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Do the provisions of the Washington minimum wage act apply to individuals who are employed by a nonprofit agriculture fair association authorized and conducted according to chapter 61, Laws of 1961?

            We answer this question in the affirmative.


            During its 1961 session our legislature amended the Washington minimum wage and hour act which was passed originally in 1959, see chapter 18, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess., codified in chapter 49.46 RCW.  As so amended the act provides for a minimum wage of $1.25 for all employees not exempt from the provisions thereof.  Since there are many exemptions provided in RCW 49.46.010 (5)1/ rather than to extend this opinion, we will merely set forth the provisions thereof which may have some application to your inquiry.  The exemption section reads in pertinent part as follows:

            "'Employee' includes any individual employed by an employer but shall not include:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "(e) any individual engaged in the activities of an educational, charitable, religious, or nonprofit organization where the employer-employee relationship does not in fact exist or where the services are rendered to such organizations gratuitously;

            ". . .

            "(i) any individual employed by the state, any county, city or town, municipal corporation or quasi-municipal corporation, political subdivision, or any instrumentality thereof;"

            In resolving any inquiry such as that presented by you, it must be remembered that it is a well-settled rule of statutory interpretation that statutory exceptions generally should be strictly, but reasonably, construed and that all doubt should be resolved in favor of the general provision rather than the exception.  State v. Christensen, 18 Wn. (2d) 7, 19, 137 P. (2d) 512 (1943).  Where a statute provides for exceptions, no other exceptions will be assumed by implication.  Sandona v. City of Cle Elum, 37 Wn. (2d) 831, 837, 226 P. (2d) 889 (1951).

            We have examined the provisions of chapter 61, Laws of 1961, to determine whether employees employed by a nonprofit agricultural fair association fall within any of the specific exemptions stated above.  We do not believe they do.  Hence, the employees of such agricultural fair association would be subject to the provisions of the Washington minimum wage and hour act, in our opinion.

            You will note that under the provisions of chapter 61, Laws of 1961, the following types of fairs may be conducted (cf. chapter 15.76 RCW):

            "(1) 'Area fairs'‑-those not under the jurisdiction of boards of county commissioners; organized to serve an area larger than one county, having both open and junior participation, and having an extensive diversification of classes, displays and exhibits;

            "(2) 'County and district fairs'‑-organized to serve the interests of single counties other than those in which a recognized area fair or a district fair as defined in RCW 36.37.050, is held and which are under the direct control and supervision of the county commissioners of the  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] respective counties, which have both open and junior participation, but whose classes, displays and exhibits may be more restricted or limited than in the case of area or district fairs.  There may be but one county fair in a single county:  PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the county commissioners of two or more counties may, by resolution, jointly sponsor a county fair.

            "(3) 'Community fairs'‑-organized primarily to serve a smaller area than an area or county fair, which may have open or junior classes, displays, or exhibits.  There may be more than one community fair in a county.

            "(4) 'Youth shows and fairs'‑-approved by duly constituted agents of Washington State University and/or the Washington state board for vocational education, serving three or more counties, and having for their purpose the education and training of rural youth in matters of rural living."

            RCW 36.37.040 provides in pertinent part as follows:

            ". . . The board of county commissioners may employ persons to assist in the management of fairsor by resolution designate a nonprofit corporation as the exclusive agency to operate and manage such fairs."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is apparent that the employees of such nonprofit fair association may not be considered employees of the state, any county, or any instrumentality thereof (see,Peisker v. Unemployment Compensation Commission, 45 N.M. 307, 115 P. (2d) 62 (1941);Unemployment Compensation Commission of North Carolina v. Wachovia Bank & Trust Co., 215 N.C. 491, 2 S.E. (2d) 592 (1939)) and hence are not exempt by RCW 49.46.010 (5) (i), supra.  Furthermore, since the employer-employee relationship does in fact exist, said employees are not exempt under RCW 49.46.010 (5) (e), supra.

            Accordingly, it is the opinion of this office as stated above that the provisions of the Washington minimum wage and hour act apply to individuals employed by nonprofit agriculture fair associations authorized and conducted under the provisions of chapter 61, Laws of  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] 1961, since the legislature has not specifically excluded such employees from the provisions thereof.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/For additional exemptions from the act see, also, § 5, chapter 18, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess,; RCW 49.46.025, which exempts from the minimum wage and hour act regularly enrolled students who are employed by institutions of higher learning.