Unpaid intern cases to be heard by federal appeals court

Cover of amicus brief filed by National Employment Law Project

Cover of amicus brief filed by the National Employment Law Project

On Friday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear oral arguments in two cases involving the legality of unpaid internships, Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures and Wang v. Hearst Corporation. Both cases are on appeal from lower court rulings. The Second Circuit, which sits in New York City, is one of the nation’s most prominent federal appellate courts. Its decision will apply to the many New York employers that hire interns and will influence courts in other parts of the country that are deciding wage claims brought by unpaid interns.

The key issues before the court today are:

1. What legal standard will be applied to employers who seek exemptions from minimum wage laws for interns?

2. What legal standard will be used to certify class action lawsuits on behalf of unpaid interns?

We can expect a decision on these cases sometime this spring.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’ve been writing about the intern economy and legal issues concerning the widespread practice of unpaid internships for many years. In addition, for the Glatt and Wang cases, I signed onto “Friend of the Court” (a/k/a “amicus”) briefs submitted by the National Employment Law Project in support of the interns pursuing these claims.

During the past couple of days, I’ve been interviewed by print media on the pending cases. Here are two articles that summarize the significant legal issues:

Fortune: Claire Zillman, “Unpaid interns have their day in court — again”

Wall Street Journal: Rachel Feintzeig, “A Question for the Court: What’s an Intern Worth?”

 

 

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