Judge Rules Interns Should Have Been Paid

A major pro-artist and pro-student legal decision was handed down yesterday, pertaining specifically to unpaid internships. This is a must-read for art galleries and private art institutions.

A Federal District Court judge in Manhattan ruled on Tuesday that Fox Searchlight Pictures had violated federal and New York minimum wage laws by not paying production interns.

According to the NY Times, “Judge William H. Pauley III forcefully called for following criteria that the Department of Labor has laid out for unpaid internships. Those rules say unpaid internships should not be to the immediate advantage of the employer, the work must be similar to vocational training given in an educational environment, the experience must be for the benefit of the intern and the intern’s work must not displace that of regular employees.”

Keep in mind that nonprofit organizations are not automatically exempt from internship regulations. Generally speaking, nonprofits may have volunteers so long as the volunteers do not replace  or augment paid staff to do the work of paid staff. Additionally, nonprofits may have student interns so long as certain criteria are met. More info on nonprofit internships via a PDF, here.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a concise sheet on internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which I’ve made available via PDF format, here.

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