Are you an unpaid intern? Keep in mind, if your internship is not providing you with an educational experience and you are being asked to perform tasks normally assigned to paid workers, the employer may be breaking labor laws.
The U.S. Department of Labor has guidelines about internships that are supposed to dissuade employers from taking advantage of loopholes to avoid paying you. Additionally, in California, companies must submit an internship proposal to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) before allowing a person to perform tasks without pay.
If you feel like an employer is taking advantage of you through an unpaid internship, it may prove wise to speak to a labor attorney. As the case below proves, there are ways you can seek damages, including through class action litigation.
Viacom Agrees to $7.2 Million Unpaid Internship Settlement
One recent internship case generating national headlines is one involving Viacom. In 2013, a class action lawsuit was filed against the media company, accusing it of taking advantage of unpaid interns who worked for its networks, including MTV and BET.
Recently, Viacom settled the lawsuit for a reported $7.2 million. The settlement will reportedly cover more than 1,000 interns who worked for the company between August 13, 2007 and June 1, 2013. A web developer and a human resources intern who claimed that the company denied interns minimum wages and assigned duties typically performed by paid employees initially filed the lawsuit.
The interns claimed that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Speaking to an Attorney About an Internship
Again, as this case shows, if you believe that you are being taken advantage of by an employer, it may be a good idea to speak to an attorney. Over on our labor site, we have a page dedicated to unpaid internships that may answer some of your questions.
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Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment attorneys
Did You Know? A 2013 survey found that only 37 percent of unpaid interns are offered employment after completing an internship.