If your Finance department plans on offering unpaid internships this summer, you’d better be extra careful you dot all of your i’s and cross all of your t’s.
Reason: Several recent high-profile lawsuits highlight the dangers of offering unpaid internships.
Here are just three examples:
1. Black Swan interns. Fox Searchlight Pictures, the producer of Black Swan, is being sued by a group of former interns.
The interns claim they worked in a number of different positions – such as production assistants, bookkeepers, secretaries and even janitors – for the betterment of the company.
And the former interns claim they received no educational credits, training or pay for their time.
2. A Harper’s Bazaar intern. A former intern at the magazine is suing the Hearst Corp. alleging she had been the equivalent of an entry-level staffer.
Her reasons: She claims she coordinated deliveries, managed expense reports and assisted with photo shoots – all without pay.
3. A Charlie Rose show internship. In this lawsuit, a former intern alleges Mr. Rose’s interns received no pay for performing background research on show guests, putting together press packs, breaking down the set, cleaning the green room and more.
If what these interns claim is true, the companies may have trouble proving they were justified in offering the internships unpaid.
This article lists the six criteria the DOL says a for-profit company must meet to use unpaid employees.