The aphorism that ‘people go to work for the love of their work and for the money’ is overlooked in part by employers using interns to accomplish real work. A recent class and collective action case filed in federal court in NY by a former unpaid intern of the Elite Model Management Corporation “seeking at least $50 million for unpaid wages, overtime and benefits” should remind us of the money part. It is also a wake up call for educational and other training institutions placing interns, and for businesses using them, that there are no bright line rules for whether a particular unpaid internship comports with the FLSA. As a result, unpaid interns are increasingly filing wage and hour claims.
- 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 environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- 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;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.