What Laws Protect Interns in the Workplace?

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Your internship with an employer may only be a temporary, short-term opportunity. But this does not mean that you should put up with discriminatory or otherwise unjust actions against you. Rather, you must understand that federal and state employment laws may protect you just as much as they may protect a full-time employee at the company. Read on to discover what laws protect interns in the workplace and how a seasoned Gloucester County wage and hour lawyer from The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. can work to ensure that you are treated fairly.

What employment laws exist to protect interns in the workplace?

Firstly, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination holds that employers are prohibited from participating in any discriminatory actions in the workplace on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or any other protected class. Of note, these protected classes apply to all individuals present in the workplace, including volunteers and unpaid interns. It is worth mentioning that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has identified certain scenarios in which similar protections may be offered to volunteers and unpaid interns under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Secondly, there are only certain exceptions that may allow an employer to retain unpaid interns for the workplace. But generally speaking, the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law and the Federal Labor Standards Act establish that employers must pay their interns according to the state or federal minimum wage standards.

Under what circumstances is an unpaid internship allowed in a New Jersey workplace?

You may be thankful for your internship and therefore do not question why it is an unpaid opportunity. But while federal and state employment laws allow certain exceptions for unpaid internships, you must ensure that your employer is not trying to exploit you. That is, you must understand the specific circumstances that permit an unpaid internship in a New Jersey workplace. Namely, the United States Department of Labor has established this six-part test:

  • The internship should work only to the benefit of the intern.
  • The internship should provide training similar to what would be given in an educational environment.
  • The employer that provides the training should not receive an immediate advantage from the intern’s activities.
  • The intern should work under the close supervision of existing staff, rather than displacing them.
  • The intern should not automatically be entitled to a full-time position after the internship.
  • The intern should understand that they are not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

All six of the aforementioned parts must be met in your internship. If not, you must not wait too long to contact a competent Gloucester County employee rights litigation lawyer. The statute of limitations for your claim is likely six years from the date on which your incident occurred. That said, it is wise if you call The Vigilante Law Firm, P.C. today.

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