Los Angeles partner Mark Terman was quoted in an HR Executive article titled, “The End of Unpaid Internships.” The article discussed the recent rise in lawsuits from unpaid interns and how employers are coping. According to the 2016 Employer’s Guide to Developing a Successful Internship, more than 30 cases have been filed by unpaid interns in the past four years.
Though the Department of Labor (DOL) issued informal training guidance in 1967, some employers still find themselves in trouble when interns cite menial or unskilled tasks, with limited educational value. More recently , the DOL issued six guidelines to follow for internship programs under The Fair Labor Standards Act. Mark notes that of these six guidelines, employers are most likely to violate the rules that unpaid interns cannot displace regular employees and that the internship is meant to benefit the intern more than the employer. In addition to DOL standards, Mark also highlighted paying close attention to state guidelines. Mark suggests a starting with a more holistic approach when creating or reshaping an internship program.
“Get an initial feeling for whether the work the intern is to do is more clerical — lower-level work that arguably displaces a clerical or low-level employee that the company would ordinarily pay for," Mark said. "See if there is any kind of supervised training, learning or mentoring predominates the relationship."