Unpaid Internship Rules

I’m Amy E. Feldman with federal rules on unpaid internships.

Most people complain about their unpaid internships because they did nothing but grunt work. Not so for one internet poster who, when interning as a high school student for a dentist, was allowed to pull out a man’s tooth. Kind of makes me wonder if a legal intern might want to learn how to file a lawsuit against that dentist. 

As summer approaches, many students are looking for unpaid internships to gain experience even if they aren’t gonna get paid. Here’s what students and employers need to know: in order not to violate labor laws, employers must pay employees at least minimum wage unless the company can show the internship primarily benefits the intern by providing training, rather than primarily benefiting the company by getting cheap labor. 

If in doubt, companies are best served to pay minimum wage—plus, they might just find that in this job market, finding anyone to work for free is like pulling teeth.

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