In Amnesty International of the USA, Inc., 368 NLRB No. 112 (2019), a number of paid staff of the nonprofit advocacy group joined a petition circulated by Amnesty’s unpaid interns, seeking compensation of their volunteer work.  In response to the petition, the director of the organization made statements that she was “disappointed” that the signers of the petitioners had not availed themselves of the organization’s open door policy to discuss the matter with her and the executive team before signing the petition, and that she did not think the petition was “appropriate” as it was “litigious” and “adversarial.” 
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On Friday, January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) posted a brief statement and updated its Fact Sheet on Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act to clarify that going forward, it will use the “primary beneficiary” seven factor test for distinguishing bona fide interns from employees under the FLSA. 
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In a closely watched case, Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. (decided July 2, 2015), the Second Circuit rejected the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) intern test under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), and adopted a balancing test that focuses on whether the employee or the employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship (“primary beneficiary test”).
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Now that summer is here and the interns have arrived, it is important to consider whether your interns should be paid.  A New York District Court has recently issued a decision highlighting this concern in its ruling against unpaid internships.  In Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. interns who worked on the set of Black Swan brought suit alleging that Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. and Fox Entertainment Group, Inc. violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Laws (“NYLL”) by classifying them as unpaid interns rather than employees.  11 Civ 6784 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. June 11, 2013).

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With a dearth of job openings for recent college graduates, many have pursued unpaid internships while continuing to search for fulltime employment.  A 2008 survey found that half of all college students hold at least one internship before graduating.  In light of the 18.8% March unemployment rate for American workers aged 16-24—nearly double the 9.7% unemployment rate for the workforce at large—this practice can be beneficial for interns, who gain experience and contacts, as well as for employers, who can benefit from having eager interns ready to learn and contribute.

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