Court Finds Unpaid Interns Entitled to Wages

In a case titled Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82079 (S.D.N.Y. June 11, 2013), a New York federal court held that unpaid interns who worked on the production of various films including “Black Swan” were entitled to minimum wage and (if necessary) overtime compensation for the hours they worked. The Glatt decision relied heavily on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #71 which concerns “Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Therein, the DoL outlined six factors to be considered when determining if an intern is entitled to compensation for work provided to “for-profit” private sector employees. These include:

  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; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

The Glatt opinion has sent shockwaves through corporate America and forced businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York to re-evaluate their internship programs for students and recent graduates. Many companies, both in and outside of the entertainment industry, assumed that if you called someone an “intern” they were excused from following state and federal wage and hour law. The Glatt opinion suggests otherwise.

Our firm would be happy to provide a completely free and confidential consultation to anyone who has worked as an unpaid intern in any industry and investigate their potential minimum wage and overtime claims.

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