You may feel grateful when you are considered for an internship opportunity, even if it is unpaid. While you can be appreciative, you must not let your employer, manager, or even fellow interns take advantage of you. After all, you may still carry legal protections within the workplace. Continue reading to learn the workplace rights an unpaid intern holds and how one of the experienced Los Angeles employment lawyers at Stansbury Brown Law, PC can work to ensure your rights are respected.

Is an unpaid internship legal in the state of California?

You may assume that unpaid internships are a thing of the past, rarely coming across one in your job search. However, the United States Department of Labor still recognizes unpaid internship programs as legal. This is so long as they meet the following criteria:

  • It must be designed to prepare the intern for their future career.
  • It must offer training similar to what is provided in an educational setting.
  • It must not let the employer offering the training receive immediate benefits from the intern’s work.
  • It must not guarantee the intern’s permanent employment after the internship program.
  • It must have the intern work under the supervision of regular employees, rather than replace them.
  • It must allow the intern to agree to not being paid for the duration of the internship program.

As an unpaid intern, what rights do I hold in the workplace?

Once you confirm that your internship program is legitimate, you must verify that your rights as an unpaid intern are being upheld. In other words, you must understand your protection under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Specifically, you are protected from discriminatory or harassing actions or behaviors based on your protected class. For example, you cannot be excluded from any training part of the internship program because of your race or color.

In addition, you are protected from retaliatory actions or behaviors based on your complaint, report, or cooperation in a workplace investigation of discrimination or harassment. For example, you cannot be let go from the internship program after reporting an incident in which your manager made a sexual advance on you.

Lastly, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds that unpaid interns may qualify for some protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is particularly true in claims of sexual harassment.

In the end, you may want to sue a negligent employer for violating your protections. With this, you must remember that the statute of limitations for an employment discrimination or retaliation claim is three years in the state of California. So before it is too late, you must retain the services of one of the skilled Los Angeles employment lawyers. Contact our Stansbury Brown Law, PC office today.