If you are applying for an internship in California, you are likely wondering if your internship will be paid or unpaid. While it may not be unlawful to offer unpaid internships, there are certain rules California employers must follow under state and federal law to keep unpaid internships legal.
Both state and federal employment laws have established clear guidelines that determine when it’s appropriate to have an unpaid intern, or if an intern should be paid minimum wage.
The U.S. Department of Labor has set requirements for determining whether an unpaid internship is legal. Under federal law, a California employer must adhere to the following:
The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) in California offers its own set of internship laws. All businesses in California must submit an outline of their proposed internships to the DLSE, and each internship must meet the following requirements to be approved:
If your internship qualifies under these factors as an unpaid internship, state and federal laws will not consider your internship to be an employment relationship that qualifies for minimum wage or overtime pay.
An unpaid internship can often lead to a long, prosperous career in your chosen field. But if your California employer fails to follow internship guidelines under California and federal wage law, this could mean that your unpaid internship is illegal. Not paying interns is a common labor and employment violation in California when “interns” are used as unpaid labor.
If you think that your employer is violating your rights by not paying you for a so-called “internship,” you may have legal grounds to sue. Contact our experienced California lawyers for wage & hour violations at Hennig Ruiz to discuss your legal rights today. Get a free consultation.