Protect Your Rights in a California Unpaid Internship

California Employment Law Attorney on Legality of Unpaid Internships in Los Angeles

Although internship arrangements can be a good start to a promising career, some employers treat interns like free labor, giving no regard to the intern’s legal rights. In some cases, interns also suffer harassment in the workplace and discrimination at work. Several interns have successfully filed California underpaid internship lawsuits against employers for making them perform the same job as full-time employees without equal pay or benefits. Unpaid internship labor laws regulate how employers can utilize interns as well as govern what can make unpaid internships illegal.

Whether you are considering a California unpaid internship or are already an unpaid intern, it is vital to know what your employer’s obligations are when accepting your labor without paying for it. Our California employment law attorneys have several decades of experience that we use when evaluating your case, including several years representing employers. Now that we represent workers, we know what your employer will say to limit liability how to counter those claims. Call an employment law attorney from Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob to talk about your California unpaid internship today.

Federal Employment Laws on Unpaid Internships

Employers in California must follow two sets of standards when it comes to internships: federal and state. On the federal level, the Department of Labor created unpaid internship labor laws that all states must follow. The Department of Labor outlines six requirements for determining an internship’s legality. The employer must ensure that:

  1. The intern’s duties will be similar to training provided by an educational institution.
  2. The position exists for the intern’s benefit.
  3. The intern’s work does not displace the work of regular employees, and his or her work must be supervised.
  4. The employer cannot receive any immediate benefit or advantage from hiring the intern, i.e. an employer cannot hire an intern just to cover a sudden vacancy.
  5. A job does not have to be guaranteed at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. There is a mutual understanding that the intern will not receive wages over the course of the position.

Failing to follow these standards may make unpaid internships illegal. If your unpaid internship in Los Angeles fails to meet these standards, talk to a California employment law attorney about your best legal options.

California Unpaid Internship Laws

In California, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has additional unpaid internship labor laws specific to the state. All California businesses seeking to hire interns must submit an outline of the proposed internship to the DLSE. The California unpaid internship will only receive approval if it meets the state requirements, which include:

  • The position must take place as part of an educational curriculum, which requires the participation of a school or similar institution.
  • The intern cannot receive employee benefits, including insurance or workers comp.
  • The position must train the intern to work in a given industry, not just a specific company.
  • When recruiting, the employer must be upfront about the unpaid nature of the position.

A common concern both the federal and California government have with unpaid internships is that the internship must be of benefit to the intern, with the employer gaining no benefit or even suffering some minor loss of revenue or resources on behalf of the intern. An employment law attorney in Los Angeles can help you determine whether a California unpaid internship violated federal or state labor laws.

Report an Illegal California Unpaid Internship to Employment Lawyers Near Me

If you suspect an unpaid internship may be illegal and that the company abused your rights as an unpaid intern, you should speak with an experienced California employment law attorney at the law firm of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob today. Our employment lawyers are prepared to help you figure out if the employer violated unpaid internship labor laws, and whether you may be entitled to file an employment law claim for unpaid wages. Fill out our case review form for free legal advice about the legality of a California unpaid internship.