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Intern or Employee?

The question whether student interns should be considered employees is an often-difficult employment law decision. If a student intern is considered an employee, he or she may be entitled to employment benefits pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This includes receiving at least minimum wage and overtime compensation for all time worked in excess of 40 hours in any one-work week.

One of the most recent decisions in wage and hour law expanded the definition of employees. This case involved several students who were participating in a clinical internship that was required in order to become a licensed registered nurse.

While the lower court determined that the students who participated in the rigorous anesthesiology training program, the court of appeals re-evaluated the test the trial court applied and expanded the test. The court noted that the “primary benefit test” established nearly 70 years ago is generally too rigid for today’s economy and the realities of intensive internship, and that trying to use the 6-factor test for every workplace isn’t necessary feasible. Further, “modern internships” that are required to obtain professional certifications and licenses are far different than what was anticipated years ago. As a result, a closer inspection balancing the competing interests of the students and the employers is necessary to determine the true nature of the relationship.

For more information, or if you have any wage and hour questions, please contact the experienced Atlanta FLSA lawyers at Buckley Beal LLP for an immediate case evaluation.