The Legal and Social Movement Against Unpaid Internships

David C. Yamada

Suffolk University Law School

October 21, 2013

Northeastern University Law Journal, Forthcoming
Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 13-34

Until very recently, the legal implications of unpaid internships provided by American employers have been something of a sleeping giant, especially on the question of whether interns fall under wage and hour protections of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state equivalents. This began to change in June 2013, when, in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., a U.S. federal district court held that two unpaid interns who worked on the production of the movie “Black Swan” were owed back pay under federal and state wage and hour laws.

This Article examines and analyzes the latest legal developments concerning internships and the growth of the intern rights movement. It serves as an update to a 2002 article I wrote on the employment rights of interns, David C. Yamada, The Employment Law Rights of Student Interns, 35 Conn. L. Rev. 215 (2002). Now that the legal implications of unpaid internships have transcended mostly academic commentary, the underlying legal and policy issues are sharpening at the point of application. Accordingly, Part I will examine the recent legal developments concerning internships, consider the evolving policy issues, and suggest solutions where applicable.

In addition, the intern rights movement has emerged to challenge the widespread practice of unpaid internships and the overall status of interns in today’s labor market. Thus, Part II will examine the emergence of a movement that has both fueled legal challenges to unpaid internships and engaged in organizing activities and social media outreach surrounding internship practices and the intern economy.

This article grew out of my presentation at the March 2013 Northeastern University Law Journal symposium on employee misclassification.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

Keywords: Interns, unpaid internships, minimum wage, labor standards, wage and hour laws, Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII, sexual harassment, colleges and universities, higher education

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Date posted: October 11, 2013 ; Last revised: November 6, 2013

Suggested Citation

Yamada, David C., The Legal and Social Movement Against Unpaid Internships (October 21, 2013). Northeastern University Law Journal, Forthcoming; Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 13-34. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2338646

Contact Information

David C. Yamada (Contact Author)
Suffolk University Law School ( email )
120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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