SPRINGFIELD — Unpaid or underpaid interns can come with a giant price tag, according to Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., a labor and employment law firm serving employers in the Greater Springfield area. However, they can also help businesses connect with the next generation of business leaders. To help employers provide a mutually beneficial internship program, attorney Timothy Murphy of Skoler, Abbott & Presser will host a live webinar on Thursday, March 2, identifying key laws employers need to know to limit legal liability when utilizing interns.
“An internship should provide value to both the intern and the business,” Murphy said. “However, the line between ‘intern’ and ‘employee’ is fuzzy at best. With spring just around the corner, now is the time when college students and graduates are searching for internships. Business owners and human-resource professionals should be prepared and know how to bring interns on board for mutual benefit and avoid the legal pitfalls that could result in costly lawsuits.”
Those lawsuits can happen to any business failing to comply with wage-and-hour laws. Warner Music Group Corp., for example, home to some of the largest record labels, including Atlantic and Warner Bros., agreed to settle to the tune of $4.2 million when student interns filed a suit claiming that they were owed minimum wage and overtime for performing duties that the company would have had to hire and pay others to perform.
“Coming prepared to work and providing valuable contributions is the responsibility of an intern and something you should expect as an employer,” Murphy said. “They, in turn, expect you to provide an opportunity that complies with the law. These relationships can be, and most often are, positive, and we are here to help you put that framework together for the upcoming internship season.”
The webinar will run from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and cover such topics as rhe benefits of hiring seasonal interns for both the intern and the organization; what interns should and should not be doing as part of their job duties; how to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Department of Labor’s six-point test, and how courts generally interpret the factors in that test; other recent legal rulings that may affect unpaid internships; how to ensure the intern who agrees to work for the organization understands the duties involved, and that the position is unpaid; how to avoid issues of harassment and discrimination with unpaid interns; and how to ensure the intern is benefiting from the training and experience as in educational environment, and why this is crucial from a legal standpoint.
Professionals interested in attending the webinar can do so online by visiting skoler-abbott.com/news/trainingprograms.