A New York judge has just determined that Fox Searchlight violated minimum
wage and overtime laws by having unpaid interns work on the movie “Black
Swan.” Companies may hire “unpaid interns” and have
them do a variety of different tasks. However, the requirements concerning
when an intern must be paid and when it’s okay not to provide compensation
are very specific. If an employer fails to pay you when it should, it
may be violating federal and state wage and hour laws.
If you have questions about your right to pay as an intern, it’s
a good idea to consult with a dedicated
Georgia wage and hour attorney right away.
In the recent unpaid intern lawsuit, Fox Searchlight got into trouble by
demanding that their interns function as regular employees. This included
performing administrative tasks such as organizing filing cabinets, running
errands, tracking purchase orders, drafting cover letters and making copies.
While the interns may have received some benefits from this work such
as job references, listings on their resume and some training, these were
incidental and not the benefit a traditional unpaid internship is meant
This case is significant because it is one of the first times a court has
determined that what is often called an intern, is really an employee,
and as a result, entitled to pay.
A representative of the family stated: “This is an incredibly important
decision as far as establishing that interns have the same wage and hour
rights as other employees …You can’t just call something
an internship and expect not to pay people when the interns are providing
a direct benefit to the company.”
In ruling for the interns, the judge followed the Department of Labor’s
six-part test for determining when an internship can be unpaid. To be
unpaid, the internship must be similar to an educational environment,
run primarily for the benefit of the intern as opposed to the employer,
and the intern’s work should not replace that of regular employees.
Other requirements include:
• That the employer that derives no immediate advantage from the activities
of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
• That the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion
of the internship; and • That the employer and the intern understand
that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
Another significant unpaid internship case filed against Hearst Magazines
is also making its way through federal court.
For more information about internships or any other wage and hour question,
please contact the dedicatedAtlanta wage and hour attorneys The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.