Recent Ruling Could Mean The End Of Unpaid Internships

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Unpaid internships have long been a source of controversy, and not without good reason — but until now, numerous lawsuits have failed to gain much legal ground for those seeking to overturn a system of unfair labor practices. However, yesterday, Manhattan Judge William H. Pauley III ruled against Fox Searchlight in the matter of a complaint brought by interns who worked on Black Swan. While this is by no means a change in the legislature, it's certainly a potential precedent that could change the way of the future.

Judge Pauley cited the following six-point test published by the Department of Labor:

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

According to Rebecca Greenfield of The Atlantic Wire, this is the first time a major U.S. court has made such a ruling on the subject of unpaid internships. Judge Pauley claimed that while the interns in this particular case did receive some benefits, they were "incidental to working in the office like any other employee and were not the result of internships intentionally structured to benefit them." That is, we imagine, a description that would apply to many internship programs — though, we hope, not for long. (The Atlantic)

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Image: Via The Atlantic Wire.