Are Interns Protected by Employment Laws?

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An internship can be a valuable experience, but many interns do not get the same protections as paid employees do. Which employment laws affect them and how they are treated in the workplace can vary based on a number of factors. If you are an intern and you suspect that you are being mistreated in the workplace, you may have legal options. A Chesterfield County employment discrimination attorney may be able to assist you.

Are Interns Protected From Discrimination?

One bit of good news is that interns are protected from discrimination in most cases. State and federal law protects workers, paid and unpaid, from being treated differently due to traits like:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Gender identity
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Veteran status

If a company is discriminating against people in the hiring process or treating workers differently based on any of these traits, they are going to run into trouble with state and federal regulators. Keep in mind that this behavior could also affect who is given promotions or new opportunities. So if you are an intern who gets passed over for a paying position and you believe that it was due to discrimination, you may have a case to make against your employer.

Are Interns Subject to Minimum Wage and Overtime Rules?

If interns are not paid, they would not be subject to most rules about minimum wage or overtime. However, the federal government has set some rules about internships and when they can be unpaid. Essentially, it looks at the kind of work an intern is doing and whether or not they should be paid for it.

Is the intern’s work tied to their education? Is there an understanding that compensation is not a part of the deal? Is the work the intern does complementary to what other employees do, or does it look like they are displacing a paid worker? If it seems like the internship should actually be a paid position, the intern could be entitled to overtime and a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act, depending on the facts of the situation.

Meet With an Employment Lawyer

If you believe that your employer has violated state or federal laws, contact Passero Employment Law. Our experienced attorney can talk to you about your situation and help you determine whether you should move forward with a legal claim.

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