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As Feds Eye Unpaid Internships Warily, Written Agreement Can Show Compliance

Posted Aug 2, 2010 5:03 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As the feds prepare to step up enforcement against employers that violate the rules concerning unpaid internships, employers—including law firms—can help demonstrate their compliance by using a written internship agreement, says attorney Rich Meneghello. He is the managing partner of Fisher & Phillip, an employment firm in Portland, Ore.

The starting point for a written agreement should be a U.S. Department of Labor fact sheet setting forth six criteria that must be met for an unpaid internship to be permissible, he tells the Daily Journal of Commerce.

Among the criteria: The experience must be educational, the intern can't displace another worker and the internship must be for a fixed period.

The six criteria should be emphasized in the internship agreement, says Meneghello. Employers that are found not to be in compliance, he notes, could be required to pay the intern back wages.

Related coverage:

ABAJourmal.com: "Law Firms Beware: Unpaid Internships May Violate Labor Law, Practitioners Say"

ABAJournal.com: "Ever Had an Unpaid Law Internship? Hired an Unpaid Intern?"

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