Unpaid summer internships have seemingly always provided mutual benefit to both employers and interns. Interns have the opportunity to gain experience, build relationships, and learn about a particular career or industry in a “real world” setting, and employers gain support, albeit unskilled, from an enthusiastic worker.
However, the legality of the internship relationship is subject to increasing scrutiny. In 2010 the Department of Labor (DOL) set forth new guidance to help determine whether interns must be paid minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the services provided to “for-profit” private sector employers. Since the introduction of the DOL’s guidance there has undoubtedly been a surge in wage and hour lawsuits filed on behalf of unpaid interns to seek wages. The Charlie Rose show has reportedly settled for $250,000 in back wages to 189 interns. Notably, the emerging trend in litigation is not limited to unpaid interns. In New York, a former Intern/Assistant Football Coach filed suit against Hamilton College’s Athletics Department alleging that he was paid the same monthly stipend regardless of the number of hours he worked, in violation of the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. The plaintiff is representing a class of forty former interns, and is seeking unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, interest, and attorneys’ fees.
Continue Reading Interns – Pay Now, or Pay Later