Worthy Exemption? Examining How the DOL Should Apply the FLSA to Unpaid Interns at Nonprofits and Public Agencies
49 Pages Posted: 13 May 2011 Last revised: 8 Feb 2012
Date Written: May 12, 2011
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has recently increased its enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) against for-profit organizations that use unpaid-intern labor by using a six-part test to determine employment status. This recent effort explicitly excludes nonprofits and public agencies, even though the FLSA provides no clear exemption for these types of organizations. However, competing public-policy concerns might require that the DOL develop a different test to determine employee status under the FLSA. Policymakers must be cognizant of both the positive and negative aspects of unpaid internships. For instance, they help young workers establish a career path and assist nonprofits and public agencies in providing services. Yet unpaid internships can also lead to harmful economic effects and stifle social mobility. This Note takes these considerations into account in proposing a solution that aims to combat the ills of the intern economy while protecting the public’s need of nonprofit and public sector services.
Keywords: Employment Law, Wage and Hour, Internships, Nonprofit, Public Agency
JEL Classification: L30, K31, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation