Ask the Legal: Does an employer have to pay summer interns?

For years, employers have offered unpaid summer internships to students. The rationale was that the students would receive experience in exchange for assisting the company. However, recently the Department of Labor (DOL) has taken a hard line on this issue, and many courts are following suit. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), internships in the private sector are often considered to be employment thereby requiring the payment of at least minimum wage and overtime. There are a number of factors to consider before deciding whether or not to pay interns. One of the primary factors to consider is whether the internship is designed to benefit the company or the intern. In some cases where a student receives academic credit for the internship, the company may not be required to pay the intern. In any event, employers should consult with employment counsel before deciding whether to pay their interns.

As appeared in:  Pittsburgh Business Times, 5/17/2013

Terri Imbarlina Patak