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Not the right task for an intern.
An important step was made toward breaking down the intern economy, with a federal district judge ruling that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage laws by not paying interns on the movie Black Swan:
Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, production interns on “Black Swan,” sued Fox Searchlight in September 2011. In the suit, Mr. Glatt and Mr. Footman said they did basic chores, usually undertaken by paid employees. Like their counterparts in other industries, the interns took lunch orders, answered phones, arranged other employees’ travel plans, tracked purchase orders, took out the trash and assembled office furniture.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Mr. Glatt, who has an M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University. “I hope that this sends a very loud and clear message to employers and to students doing these internships, and to the colleges that are cooperating in creating this large pool of free labor — for most for-profit employers, this is illegal. It shouldn’t be up to the least powerful person in the arrangement to have to bring a lawsuit to stop this.”

Unpaid internships not only allow companies to avoid hiring paid workers, but provide a route into many desirable fields of work that's not available to young people who can't afford to work for free.

And more:

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very timely and interesting. (5+ / 0-)

    This is an ongoing issue at my institution of higher learning, and I am constantly adapting the paperwork for student interns and their on-site "employers" so that everyone understands what the law is.

    Students are seen as a great well of unpaid labor and "lucky" to work for free in a desirable firm. It is a tricky negotiation, and this court case will help clarify that the interns must not simply be doing ordinary work for free, but must be educated by the host.

  •  Hmmm. Careful on the analysis. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IT Professional

    "Unpaid internships not only allow companies to avoid hiring paid workers, but provide a route into many desirable fields of work that's not available to young people who can't afford to work for free."

    Internships by nature aren't always paid.  Non-profits don't always offer paid internships and start-ups with limited budgets don't offer paid internships.

    However, Fox Searchlight is owned by 20th Century Fox and is considered to be the distribution arm of the company for alternative, independent cinema.  The company should have plenty of cash flow to allow a paid internship, especially if it's having the employee work more than just 2-3 hours per day or five days during the week.

    Internships are meant for exposure to a company and are used for class credit for a college degree.  They aren't meant for full-time positions.

    •  Non profits have different considerations. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare

      And interns, particularly in this economy, are being used as free labor in ways that are clearly against the law.

      Read about it here!

      http://www.dol.gov/...

      Nobody disputes that there are plenty of unpaid internships around that are legit. The issue is that the interns are working for free at jobs that would normally be filled by a paid employee.

      For a for-profit to have a legit unpaid internship, it must be an educational experience, and be somewhat inconvenient to the host - it even says so in the Labor Department guidelines.

      •  I don't need to read the article (0+ / 0-)

        What you're telling me is nothing new I already know.

        "For a for-profit to have a legit unpaid internship, it must be an educational experience, and be somewhat inconvenient to the host - it even says so in the Labor Department guidelines."

        And that confirms exactly what I said:

        "Internships are meant for exposure to a company and are used for class credit for a college degree.  They aren't meant for full-time positions."

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