In a challenging labor market, there are many people who are willing to do almost anything to improve their chances of obtaining gainful employment, including working without pay in order to gain what they hope is valuable experience. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), unpaid internships at for-profit companies are legal only under certain circumstances. Generally speaking, unpaid internships are lawful where the internship is primarily educational and where the business does not receive an economic benefit from the intern.
If the answers to the following questions are “yes” then the unpaid internship likely violates the FLSA and the intern may be entitled to recover unpaid wages.
Does the intern spend a substantial or even most of his or her time doing filing, clerical work, answering phones or helping customers?
Does the intern do the same work as regular paid employees?
Does the intern provide any significant economic advantage to the company?
For employers of unpaid interns seeking to comply with the law and avoid potentially costly claims, and for unpaid interns seeking to determine whether they have a claim for unpaid wages, please contact John Simpson, a member of the Charlottesville Overtime Lawyers and Charlottesville Employment Attorneys Group of MartinWren, P.C. John can be reached by telephone at (434) 817-3100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.