Wage Laws – Unpaid Intern or Internship in New Jersey and New York

By Thomas McKinney

Unpaid interns may actually be entitled to pay despite the employer classifying the intern as unpaid and the intern agreeing to take the unpaid internship.  The Wage Laws and Overtime Laws do not make it easy for employers to avoid the minimum wage and overtime laws – even for interns.

Wage laws are commonly applied to employees.  However, employers may try to circumvent the wage laws by classifying an employee as an intern.

The Wage Laws have set forth the following test to determine whether you are an employee or an intern and entitled to the pay and benefits by the employer:

The internship is similar to an educational environment and provides training (most critical);
The internship is for the benefit of the intern and not the employer;
The intern is closely supervised by the employer;
The intern does not replace the job of an employee;
The employer does not guarantee employment at the end of the internship; and
The employer and intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages.

The employer must meet all 6 of these requirements in order to have an unpaid intern.  Keep in mind that this test is for “for-profit” businesses and does not apply to “non-profit” charitable organizations.

This test is very fact specific and you should contact us for a free consultation to determine whether you are entitled to wages and overtime as part of your unpaid internship.

Dated: May 7, 2010 – Castronovo & McKinney – Wage Laws

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.