Many companies offer unpaid or low paid internships in exchange for experience. Oftentimes, however, companies’ internship programs violate federal and California labor laws because the companies fail to pay their interns at least minimum wage.
The U.S. Department of Labor and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office look at six factors in determining whether an intern should be considered an “employee,” and as an employee, should be paid at least minimum wage. In general, an intern should be paid at least minimum wage if he or she does not receive academic credit in exchange for his her work, and if the intern performs work for the benefit of the company’s business. An intern is not entitled to receive compensation if the internship is supervised by a college or university, or if the intern is engaged in “job shadowing” but does not actually perform much work for the company’s benefit.
It’s very common for companies to violate wage and hour laws by failing to pay their interns. Several major league baseball teams have reportedly been under investigation by the Department of Labor for failing to pay their interns. Recently, some companies have stopped offering internship programs altogether because of the laws requiring companies to pay their interns.
If you are an unpaid or low paid intern, you may be entitled to receive compensation from your employer. For more information about your rights, please call us at (619) 342-8000 or email Alreen Haeggquist or Jessica Labrencis.