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Should I be Getting College Credit or a Paycheck?

It's back-to-school season, which means many college students are searching for internships to meet their school's requirements for graduation-especially if they are close to graduation. And many companies are searching for interns, too. After all, it means that they get extra labor for free, right? Not so fast.

Before you take on a full- or part-time workload for free, you need to know what you're getting into, and if you should be getting paid for your work. Sure, college credit is nice, but if the company you are working for should be legally obligated to give you more than a few hours on your transcript, wouldn't you want to know?

The Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act is in place to make sure that companies don't take advantage of employees, whether or not they are covered by a union. The FLSA established the minimum wage and the standards by which the government decides who is an employee and who is a contractor or intern.

One major exception to the below criteria for unpaid internships is if the student is working at a state or local government agency, nonprofit, church or civic group.

To decide if your position should really be a job-and not a free internship-apply this six-part test:

  1. Is this training similar to what I would get in a classroom?
  2. Does this training benefit me or the company more?
  3. Am I doing the work of an employee?
  4. Is the employer gaining an advantage over competitors by having me here?
  5. Is there a guaranteed job for me after the internship?
  6. Am I aware that I am not getting paid for this work?

If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.

Our attorneys have more than 40 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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