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New decision suggests there’s no need for such an extreme reaction
Employers now hesitate to offer unpaid internships following a spate of litigation claiming internships should be paid. Not all employers can afford to make their internships paid. And they shouldn't have to, an Aug. 24 decision suggests.
"The media and entertainment industry has been hit hard" by the litigation, noted Alfred Robinson Jr., an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Washington, D.C. "Other litigation challenging unpaid internships has been filed against sporting entities and financial businesses." Most of the litigation has settled.
High-end fashion companies have been sued as well, said Adam Smiley, an attorney with Seyfarth Shaw in New York City.
So have companies in the legal and advertising industries, said Camille Olson, an attorney with Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago and Los Angeles.
"Some employers—especially in the media and entertainment industry—are doing away with internship programs altogether," she said. "Others are reassessing against the legal requirements and putting safeguards in place in order to continue to use interns in a way that is both legally compliant and mutually beneficial to both the company and the interns."
Employers that still want to provide unpaid internships got the green light to do so in Wang v. The Hearst Corp., 12-CV-0793 (S.D.N.Y. 2016), provided certain requirements are met.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against six former interns' claim that they should have been paid for their internships at various Hearst Corp. magazines.
The plaintiffs were:
The court also emphasized that:
Unpaid to Paid Internships
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