True interns are not entitled to overtime pay and minimum wages. This is because only employees are entitled to overtime pay and minimum wage. But, many interns are misclassified and are really employees. The misclassification of employees as interns has been found in increasing numbers over the last few years. Interns in the “for-profit” private sector will most often be viewed as employees. Improperly misclassifying employees as interns deprive employees of workplace protections such as minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.
Regardless of the title placed upon the relationship, an internship that primarily benefits the employer rather than the intern, may create an employer/employee relationship and thus trigger the protections of overtime pay law and minimum wage laws. Some facts that would need to be considered would be the extent the intern’s work displaces the work of paid employees, the extent the parties understand that the internship is being conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship, the extent the internship is tied to an intern’s formal education program, the extent the internship’s duration is limited to a time period in which the intern receives beneficial learning, and the extent to which the parties understand that there is no expectation of compensation for the internship. The forgoing factors are non-exhaustive. There are other facts that should be considered. To determine whether an intern is truly an employee depends on the specific facts and circumstances.
But, what is clear is that employers should not be allowed to use unpaid “interns” as substitutes for regular workers or to support its existing workforce. Neither should employers be allowed to use “interns” for unpaid trial periods or probationary periods with the understanding that successfully completing the “internship” will result in employment.
Most workers are employees for the purpose of overtime pay and minimum wage. To be sure you are properly classified and are receiving your rightful legal protections you should contact an overtime pay and minimum wage lawyer at LaBar & Adams, P.A. at 407-835-8968 or fill out the online form located on our website.