Calif. — A former unpaid intern has filed a proposed class action wage and overtime pay lawsuit in California state court against MGM. The intern claims she and other unpaid interns were essentially free labor for the company during their internship in violation of state labor law.
The MGM Intern Claim
The former intern, Kimi Gupta, worked for just 5 of the 15 days of her internship at MGM HD in Beverly Hills in June 2012. Gupta filed the lawsuit in late April of this year. According to the lawsuit, interns performed work like scheduling, record maintenance, database input, and other tasks that could have and should have been performed by paid employees. However, the interns did not receive minimum wage for the hours they worked. And they were allegedly told they could be hired at the end of the internship. If these allegations are accurate, the unpaid internship should have been a paid internship.
Internships are intended to benefit the intern and not the company or employer. Internships are not specifically addressed in the FLSA, which indicates that the FLSA views most internships as normal employment opportunities. However, the Department of Labor, based on Supreme Court decisions, recognizes a narrow set of circumstances in which an internship may be unpaid in the private sector and public sector.
In the private sector, at for-profit companies, unless the internship meets the following requirements, the “intern” is protected and required to receive minimum wage and overtime, if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Unpaid internships must meet the following six criteria:
- The intern receives similar training to an educational environment;
- The internship is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace employees and receives close supervision;
- The employer receives no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities;
- The intern may not be entitled to employment at the end of the internship; and
- Both the employer and intern understand the intern will not be receiving wages.
If the internship in the private sector does not meet the above requirements, the intern must be paid. However in the public sector, like government and nonprofits, internships may be paid, unpaid, or be a volunteer situation. There are two instances where a public sector internship could be lawfully unpaid. The first is if it complies with the same requirements as the private sector internships, while the second is the equivalent of a volunteer opportunity. If the volunteer intern does not expect compensation, has freely offered their services, and is not actually “employed” by the agency then the “internship” may be unpaid. And the volunteer intern may still receive reimbursement for expenses while remaining an unpaid intern.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your unpaid internship or believe you were wrongly classified as an unpaid intern, contact our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795. Or you may complete our Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our legal team will evaluate your claim. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.