Great Neck employment lawyers know that unpaid internships can be a great way for new workers to get their foot in the door.
It’s important to note, however, that Great Neck employment litigation can result when companies aren’t careful to walk the fine line between having someone learn the ropes and having someone carry all the ropes – unpaid.
This issue recently came to light when several large media companies were sued in New York City by former unpaid interns who said they were taken advantage of by their employers. Instead of being trained and gaining footing in the field, the interns said they were simply providing free labor by completing tasks that they believed had nothing to do with the industry.
So while it may be no big deal for an intern to run out and grab the morning meeting coffee every once in a while, it becomes an issue when that’s all they’re doing. If you’re an intern and all you’re doing is menial work, there’s likely a problem.
In the case of this employment pay dispute, the former interns said they were responsible for making coffee, taking lunch orders, coordinating deliveries, doing secretarial work and managing expense reports. The workers have alleged that if the companies had not used them, they would have had to hire someone to complete those tasks.
In some circles, the theory is that unpaid interns should almost be an inconvenience for the employer. They are supposed to be training those interns and making sure that he or she actually gets something valuable out of the experience.
Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division