Unpaid Internships and the Department of Labor: The Impact of Underenforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act on Equal Opportunity
11 U. Md. L. J. Race, Religion, Gender & Class 293 (2011)
21 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2012
Date Written: 2011
The U.S. Department of Labor’s failure to use its full authority to enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act with respect to unpaid internships has a detrimental impact on young Americans and especially young Americans from less privileged backgrounds. The Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage provisions prohibit the typical unpaid internship. Despite this, unpaid internships are a large and growing segment of the job market and are increasingly a prerequisite to a successful career. As a result, young Americans from less privileged families who cannot afford to work for free are shut out of countless job opportunities. By not using its full authority under the Act to pursue claims against the employers of unpaid interns, the Department of Labor is allowing companies to violate the law without consequence, to the detriment of the interns involved and generally to equal opportunity in society.
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