Employment Discrimination Against Interns Unlawful

With summer rapidly approaching, many companies are preparing to hire interns. These interns often take on unpaid positions, but it’s important to understand the specific rules regarding whether interns must be paid.

The Department of Labor has defined an intern (without requiring pay) as an individual who works to supplement their educational training, is not guaranteed employment at the end of the internship, does not displace regular employees, and may even provide a hindrance rather than a benefit to the company. Additionally, interns are expected to be closely supervised by existing staff.

In recent high-profile unpaid intern lawsuits, it was determined that some companies treated interns as “employees” and, therefore, these interns were entitled to be compensated for their work.

Moreover, Maryland has become the latest state to enact laws protecting interns from employment discrimination. According to the new law, interns cannot be discriminated against based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability regarding the terms of their internships. The law also mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations for interns with disabilities and prohibits retaliation against interns who exercise their rights under the law.

In summary, both the federal government and states recognize and protect the valuable role interns play in the workforce. They strive to ensure that interns receive appropriate treatment and compensation for their efforts.

If you are seeking an internship or have questions about your current internship, please contact the experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate and confidential case evaluation.