Hiring of Interns
A number of employers have an internship program with some interns being paid and others not. Those employers who hire interns on an unpaid basis must be sure that doing so is not in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. As seen recently in a case involving whether unpaid interns actually should have been paid interns, a court found that the employer of the unpaid interns was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act because the unpaid interns did not meet certain criteria to be considered such.
The Department of Labor provides six criteria in determining whether an intern can be unpaid:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
Unfortunately, the company referred to above that was sued by the unpaid interns was found to have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying its interns. In such an event, the company can be fined as well as be responsible for paying all back wages.
If your company has an unpaid internship program or is considering one, the attorneys at the McCleskey Law Firm can assist you in analyzing the multiple factors the employer must consider when deciding whether the internship program complies with the requirements set forth by the Department of Labor.