By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you think that making copies and getting coffee is an unpaid intern’s dream, think again.
Fashion designers, like other companies, are finding that the use of unpaid interns may soon go out of style. Companies across the country have long used the promise of a good recommendation as a benefit in lieu of salary to get unpaid interns, particularly in industries where there are many more wanna-bes than jobs available. But clothing companies Lacoste, Oscar de la Renta, Gucci, and Calvin Klein to name a few have all been sued recently for not paying minimum wage to interns.
If the season is beginning to start looking either to hire a summer intern or to be one, this is what you need to know:
Under the law, an internship can only be unpaid if it is primarily meant for the benefit of the intern – not the employer, and the employer that provides the internship must derive no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern. If an internship is really just a way to get free labor, it’s a violation of the law.
When you consider that federal minimum wage is only $7.25 in most states – less than the cost of a high fashion headband – it may make sense to pay an hourly wage.