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What should we do? Our summer intern is suddenly demanding back pay?

by on
in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Q. We hired an intern for the summer. She was eager to work for free to add it to her résumé. She ap­­proached us about the internship. She isn’t getting college credit and quite frankly she’s more trouble than it’s worth. We told her that after this week we won’t need her. That’s when she said we owe her minimum wage or she’ll complain to the Department of Labor. Do we really have to pay her?

A. To be a bona fide internship, the internship must meet six factors identified by the DOL. If it does not meet all six, then she would be considered an employee and you would owe her minimum wage.

Among other things, the internship should be designed to be an educational experience for the intern. It should primarily benefit the intern, not the company. If she is performing work that you would otherwise pay someone to perform that is primarily for the benefit of the company, then she is likely an employee.

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