Summertime, and the livin’ is easy – with interns fresh on college breaks coming to your company’s aid, right?


Often wrong, anyway. The Department of Labor (DOL) has been on the lookout for companies that use interns as unpaid employees – in other words, for companies that disguise work as internship “training.”

The new watchfulness of the DOL – and its outreach to interns who might be functioning as unpaid employees – has paid off in a legal victory against Fox Searchlight Pictures. A U.S. District Judge recently issued a summary judgment in a class-action lawsuit alleging that Fox Searchlight used interns as unpaid employees on the 2010 movie “Black Swan,” violating the minimum wage law. The interns are now owed backs wages, plus overtime as applicable.

Make sure, if you use interns, that you view their presence as an educational opportunity for them and not as a source for unpaid labor that your employees should be doing. Otherwise, the DOL might have something to say, if the interns themselves don't speak up.