Monday, January 14, 2019

Hey Fletch … We are beginning to think about interns for the summer. Can we pay an intern a monthly salary and have them work as many hours as needed?

DRF—Interns are rarely exempt employees. If they were exempt by job function (doing management activity) and salary (making over $23,660 for federal salary levels and higher in many states), then your interns could work as many hours as they want to. However, the definition of “intern” essentially rules them out of doing management activity. So, interns are non-exempt and subject to all wage and hour regulations. 

From a practical perspective, consider this recent court case covered by Reuters:

Condé Nast agreed to pay $5.8 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by thousands of former interns at the publisher who said they were underpaid for work at the company’s high-end magazines.

The case is one in a wave of recent suits brought against media and entertainment companies that pay little or nothing for internships.

Lauren Ballinger, who worked for approximately $1 per hour organizing accessories in the fashion closet at W Magazine, and Matthew Leib, who earned around $300 for a summer internship at the New Yorker, were the two lead plaintiffs in the case.

Morally and practically, pay your interns for hours worked. Pay them for all overtime. Be a shining light to the business community of good ethics.