Summer is nearly here and with the season comes an annual influx of students
looking for internships. Before you take a job as an intern – either
paid or unpaid – it’s critical to understand the laws affecting
these positions. If you should be getting paid for your work but aren’t,
your employer may be in violation of federal or state labor laws, such
as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or your state’s equivalent.
We’ve put together a list of some common considerations, but if
you have questions about your particular situation, it’s always
a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable
Atlanta wage and hour attorney right away.
Generally, the FLSA requires that all workers be paid minimum wage and
all non-exempt workers collect overtime pay at a rate of one and one-half
times their regular rate of pay for all time worked in excess of 40 hours
in any one work-week. The FLSA defines who is an employee (and thus entitled
to these pay considerations) very broadly. Only in very narrow categories
can an employer not pay a worker.
An employer can have an “unpaid intern” only if the intern
satisfies the following criteria as set forth by the Department of Labor (DOL):
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
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; and 6. The employer and the intern understand that the
intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If all of these factors are not met, then your employer must pay you to
work, just like any other employee. Many employers may mistakenly not
pay seasonal college workers or other employees claiming that they don’t
have to because they are interns. This is simply not the case. Several
high profile unpaid internship lawsuits have been filed across the country
where workers were falsely denied pay. If your work benefits the company
and is something that a regular employee would typically do, then there’s
a good chance that you should be paid too.
For more information about internships and pay, or any other wage and hour
question, please contact the topGeorgia FLSA attorneys The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.