Unpaid Internships

Is that Unpaid Internship a Fair Deal, or is the Company Violating the Law at Your Expense?

An experienced Tennessee wage and hour lawyer can assist you in and around Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson

Internship are very grey areas of employment law. In some cases, internships are great for undergraduates looking to get college credit and real-world experience. In other situations, internships are ways for employers to take advantage of less experienced workers. The question arises; must interns performing non-exempt work be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the services they provide to “for-profit” employers? The answer always depends on whether the FLSA actually applies to the internship in question.

If you are in an unpaid internship and think you should be compensated you should consult one of the Tennessee wage and hour attorneys at Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt, PLC. The lawyers at The Firm are experienced employee law advocates with an impressive record of success in wage and hour cases. If you have a case we can help you.

Why some internships are compensated and others are not

The question of whether the minimum wage and overtime are required turns on whether, and under what circumstances, a particular internship is an “employment relationship” under FLSA standards. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) interprets the term “employ” very broadly as “to suffer or permit to work,” so that it might seem at first glance that virtually every non-exempt individual in an internship must, by law, be paid for their services. But there are important exceptions.

The WHD has developed six criteria by which to determine that an intern need not be paid the minimum wage or overtime. These are:

  • “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;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship”

Under these circumstances an employment relationship does not exist, therefore the FLSA rules are inapplicable. Applying the law can be complicated; speak with a lawyer for help determining your rights.

Learn more about interns’ rights by speaking with a dedicated Tennessee lawyer

The attorneys at the Gilbert Firm have built a solid reputation of success as wage and hour advocates, with more than 75 years’ collective experience in employment law. We are licensed to practice in both federal and state courts and can represent you with equal skill and determination before the wage and hour regulatory agencies of either. Our attorneys represent clients in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, and across the Gulf Coast.

If you believe that your employer is wrongfully depriving you of the minimum wage and overtime compensation by misinterpreting the nature of your internship, we want to hear from you. Please call 888.354.FIRM to discuss your complaint with an experienced Tennessee wage and hour lawyer, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Gilbert McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC and its attorneys do not maintain a bona fide office in the state of Kentucky, and do not maintain a bona fide office within the area code listed. Bona fide offices are located in Jackson and Franklin, TN.
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