Unpaid Interns: The Litigation Risk Employers Can't Ignore

Unpaid internship programs are a time-honored institution for many employers, providing benefits to the interns and the company or institution alike. But a recent and burgeoning trend of lawsuits by interns alleging that they are employees under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or state wage-and-hour laws who must be paid at least minimum wage has left many employers questioning whether an unpaid internship program is worth the risk. This article discusses recent significant cases addressing the issue, and suggests ways in which employers can increase the likelihood that an unpaid internship program will pass muster.

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