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Evaluating Wage and Hour Law Considerations for Interns

As an intern, you are not an actual employee of the company with which you intern. This classification can lead to problems, however, when an employer treats you more like a regular employee.

Our experienced New York employment lawyers understand the nuances that arise when determining whether someone is an employee or intern for the sake of New York’s Minimum Wage Act and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Our decades of combined experience representing the rights of employees, combined with our unique knowledgebase, allow us to quickly and effectively identify wage and hour issues and pursue claims in an effort to get the best results.

The 11 Qualifications of Being Labeled as an Intern in New York

The New York Department of Labor, Division of Labor Standards (NYDOL), uses 11 criteria to determine whether an individual is an intern or an employee. First, it relies upon the six items laid out by the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet #71:

  • The internship at the agency’s facilities provides similar training to what the individual would receive at a school
  • The intern benefits from the internship, not the agency
  • The intern is an additional person in the room, not a replacement for a regular employee
  • The agency receives no immediate benefit from the training program, and acknowledges it may even suffer occasionally due to it
  • The agency has not guaranteed a job offer to the intern at the end of the training program
  • Both parties know and understand that the intern will receive no payment for the program

The NYDOL then goes on to assess an additional five factors that are New-York specific:

  • The intern receives supervision and direction from individuals experienced in the activities that the intern performs
  • The intern does not receive any employee benefits
  • The intern receives general training that can transfer to any employer
  • The program uses a different screening process for interns than it does for employees

These guidelines should mirror your experience. If they do not, then you may have a claim for unpaid wages and you should evaluate your position further.

Blurring the Lines Between Intern and Employee

According to the NYDOL and the U.S. Department of Labor, an individual is an employee of an agency if that person is “suffered or permitted” to work. This loose definition often opens up the likelihood that lines will blur between employee and intern. This often most occurs in the following situations:

  • When the intern spends more time completing mundane tasks for the agency
  • When the intern receives a guarantee of employment at the end of the internship period
  • When the agency reduces its regular staffing levels during the same time frame

If you feel you are simply an employee in the guise of an intern, you should definitely speak to an employment law attorney about your options.

Contact Bell Law Group, PLLC, for a Free Strategy Session

As an intern, you do not have much power or control over the agency with which you are training. So pursuing a wage and hour claim for unpaid wages may seem like an incredibly intimidating process. We are here to help you through the process and will stand by you at every step along the way. Learn more about how our services can benefit you, and how your claim can benefit others, by calling our New York law firm at 855-566-2355 or by requesting a free strategy session via email.

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