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Gawker is latest target of unpaid intern class action

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Unpaid interns for the website Gawker.com have won a round in court in their attempt to bring a class-action suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A federal judge has ruled that lawyers bringing the suit can send notices to unpaid interns throughout the company who could potentially join the lawsuit.

The judge did not decide on the interns’ claims, but did rule they had sufficiently common characteristics to be certified as a class.

The court ruled the interns performed work similar to that of paid employees, contributed content to Gawker’s publications, moderated sections of its websites and received primarily on-the-job training. They had to follow Gawker’s general policies, were supervised in the same way as employees and received communications from management in the same way employees did. They also used the same internal communications systems employees did, were expected to work independently and received no special training or instruction.

In other words, the company treated the interns just like employees in all ways except one—they weren’t paid.

Note: Suing on behalf of unpaid interns is the hottest trend in employment law. Don’t be a victim! Discuss your internships with your attorney so they can be structured in a legal way. Simply using interns to supplement your workforce will land you in court.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chester January 8, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Wonderful website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of
any discussion boards that cover the same tpics discussed here?

I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get uggestions from other experienced people that share the same interest.
If you have any recommendations, please leet me know.
Appreciate it!


A. Worker October 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm

“Note: Suing on behalf of unpaid interns is the hottest trend in employment law. Don’t be a victim!”
Oh yeah, because the victims here are the people exploiting unpaid labour.


Commenter2 October 25, 2014 at 2:56 am

They’d be a victim if they tried to make a good internship program but didn’t completely set it up right through simple omission.

If one payed employee starts bossing around an unpaid intern to do their work for them and the actual boss gets the lawsuit that would be pretty unfair.

Likewise one that DOES provide extra training but doesn’t clearly delineate it in writing.

There are plenty of scenarios where a well-meaning employer can accidentally make themselves look bad.


Slicer October 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm

It doesn’t matter. The company is responsible for defining the responsibilities of interns. If Gawker allows its interns to be bullied into doing full-time employees’ work for them, Gawker is responsible, either through direct action or negligence. You can’t blame a subordinate for this kind of thing.


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