Say, for instance, that you have been accepted into a temporary, short-term internship program in the field that aligns with your desired career path. While you may be undoubtedly grateful for this opportunity and the doors it may open for you, this does not necessarily mean that you should allow your employer to take advantage of you. That is, you must ensure that your rights as an intern are secured. Continue reading to learn whether interns are protected by employment laws and how one of the experienced California wage & hour lawyers at Stansbury Brown Law, PC can help you understand your given rights.

Are interns protected by California employment laws?

In certain respects, interns throughout the state of California are protected by its employment laws. For instance, interns have the same legal rights to protection against discrimination and harassment as every other state employee has. They are specifically protected under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which states that it is illegal for employers of five or more employees to discriminate against job applicants, interns, and employees due to a protected class. Further, it prohibits any retaliation against job applicants, interns, and employees who have asserted their rights under the law.

As far as pay goes, interns are protected by California minimum wage laws and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. With this, employers are required to pay interns based on the state minimum wage (i.e., $15.50 per hour) and overtime rules (i.e., time and half). Generally speaking, an unpaid internship is only allowed if the intern and their employer are not technically involved in an employment relationship.

What if my employer mislabels me as an intern?

Without a doubt, a common legal issue our firm handles is the mislabeling of employees as interns. Your employer may mislabel you so that they may claim that an employment relationship does not exist and therefore disqualify you from payment opportunities. With this, you must understand the criteria that the United States Department of Labor uses to determine whether an individual is an intern or an employee. The four criteria that are specific to California interns are as follows:

  • Interns are supposed to receive supervision and direction from experienced individuals in the field.
  • Interns are supposed to receive training that can transfer to any other employer.
  • Interns are supposed to undergo a different screening process than employees at the company.
  • Interns are not supposed to receive any employee benefits from the company.

So if you believe that you are being mislabeled and missing out on rightful pay, then you must not wait too long to contact one of the skilled Los Angeles employment lawyers. This is especially because the statute of limitations for your claim is likely three years from the date on which your incident occurred. That said, it is wise if you call Stansbury Brown Law, PC today.