Intern or Employee?

The question of whether student interns should be considered employees is a challenging one in employment law. If a student intern is deemed an employee, they may be entitled to employment benefits under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including receiving at least minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

A recent wage and hour law decision expanded the definition of employees in such cases. The case involved students participating in a clinical internship required for becoming licensed registered nurses.

While the lower court ruled that the students were participating in an anesthesiology training program, the court of appeals re-evaluated the trial court’s test and expanded it. The court recognized that the “primary benefit test” established nearly 70 years ago is generally too rigid for the current economy and the realities of intensive internships. Applying the 6-factor test to every workplace is often not feasible. Moreover, “modern internships” required for professional certifications and licenses differ significantly from what was anticipated in the past. Consequently, a closer examination that balances the interests of the students and employers is necessary to determine the true nature of the relationship.

For more information or if you have any wage and hour questions, please contact the experienced Atlanta FLSA lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.