On Tuesday, April 6th, I posted a note regarding the criteria used by the DOL to distinguish interns from employees. Today I read two articles in The New York Times about the widespread misclassification of interns across industries and across the states.
I agree, in the current economic climate, the unemployed are willing to work without pay just to gain the necessary experience, and some employers may profit from this. If the experienced professionals have hard time getting jobs, what about the students? I recently spoke with law students at a recognized New York City law school, who said that even the top students cannot find summer placements or jobs after graduation. The market has changed for sure, but this does not mean that employers can cease this opportunity to get free labor. According to the articles, the Obama administration has stepped up its efforts to crack down on those businesses that use interns as employees. So, to whose who have interns: you should review again the DOL criteria and make sure that the internships your firm is offering comply with ALL six criteria (including the one that requires that employers do not derive immediate benefit from the activities of the interns). Otherwise, - beware!