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Unpaid Interns Could Cost You

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Have an unpaid intern in your office? You need to hear this.

If you think pretty people can just get places on their own, you’re kidding yourself. Apparently, it’s tough work escorting models around the city. And while there may be a line of mostly pubescent boys very happy to do the hard work, the interns hired to escort models and perform other administrative tasks during New York’s Fashion Week aren’t nearly as thrilled. They’ve filed a class action lawsuit against Elite modeling agency claiming that jobs that were advertised as unpaid internships actually violated the wage payment laws.

And, if your office has unpaid interns for the summer, you need to hear this. Because although you might think that the experience the interns get more than makes up for the long hours with no pay, that’s not what the law says.

In order legally to hire an intern whom you don’t pay, the duties performed must primarily be for the benefit of the trainee – not the employer, and the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees. If your program is really just a way to get you free labor, it’s a violation of the law.

So consider paying at least minimum wage to avoid an ugly lawsuit.