Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Internships Must Be Paid

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

When Internships Must Be Paid

Article excerpt

Companies seeking to diminish wage and hour liability should be aware of what is quickly becoming "the next big trend" in workplace litigation: lawsuits initiated by unpaid interns and interns making less than the minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state law.

These lawsuits should serve as a warning to employers that the initial "bargain" of an unpaid internship can ultimately amount to significant liability in the form of back pay and penalties.

Internships used to be populated exclusively by eager high school and college students seeking valuable work experience. Since the job market contracted, the type of individual seeking an internship has changed drastically, as internships are increasingly sought by adults who have completed their education. According to a recent Pew Charitable Trust study, only 54 percent of those from age 18 to 24 are employed, suggesting that internships have been replacing paid, entry-level jobs.

In response to these developments, the U. …

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