Employment Law Commentary: Unpaid Internships: A Prevalent Practice Called into Question -- Volume 24, No. 5 May 2012


An unpaid internship for a college student has almost become a rite of passage. Many advocates, however, charge that unpaid internships are just a form of unpaid labor, regardless of the benefits enjoyed by students and companies. Indeed, in the past six months, three proposed class actions have been filed against companies in the media industry accusing them of misclassifying individuals as unpaid interns, instead of employees, thus violating federal and state minimum wage and overtime laws. These legal challenges should be of concern to employers who use unpaid interns, and provide an opportunity for employers to reassess their internship programs and ensure that they are in compliance with federal and California law.

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