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Are Unpaid Internships Legal?

unpaid internships, offering an internship, potential lawsuits, class-action suit, employment lawsuits, low pay internships, valuable job training, protecting your companyAs summer approaches, various companies will begin to consider the possibility of offering internships to college students and recent graduates in order to bolster their workforce.

In some cases, companies  will choose to allow the work experience, and a letter of recommendation, to act as fair pay for the intern’s time. However, several recent employment lawsuits across the country have brought about questioning in regards to whether or not unpaid internships are legal.

One of the most recent cases involved Hearst Corp., a New York firm that was facing a class-action lawsuit from a group of 3,000 unpaid interns. However, the court recently ruled that the group could not continue their class-action suit. Instead, they will have to file individual cases against the company.

And while many interns feel this ruling is a major setback for intern employment rights, it does offer some legal protection for companies who choose to continue offering low pay or unpaid internships.

Today, internships have become a near requirement for those college students hoping to land employment with a good firm after graduation. Unpaid internships are legal; however, if your company is concerned over potential lawsuits, there are several things you can do.

To begin, consider offering recent graduates a competitive internship, for example, with the winner being offered a job at the end of their term. Also, establish a relationship with the local college that will allow interns to earn credit for the time they spend working. Ensuring that interns receive valuable job training and are treated well will also go a long way towards protecting your company.

If your business is considering offering an internship this summer or in the future, speak with an attorney who understands employment law. Contact the Miller Law Firm, P.C. today for a consultation. We can help you set up your internship program in a legal manner, and thus protect you from costly legal action later.

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