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Interns may not always get pay or benefits, but they do have some protections in the workplace. Employers have to abide by certain rules when hiring interns and bringing them into the workplace. If an employer violates these rules, the intern may be able to file a complaint against them, just like any paid employee could. If you are an intern and you believe that your employer is violating or has violated employment laws, you should schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles County employment lawyer.

What Kinds of Employment Laws Protect Interns?

Even if you are an unpaid intern, you are still protected by some of the same state and federal regulations that protect actual employees. Your employer is still subject to rules about discrimination, for example.

An employer cannot discriminate against an employee or potential employee based on protected traits like gender, age, disability, or religion. The federal government has a list of qualities that cannot influence the hiring process or how an employee is treated at work, and these protections apply to interns as well.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act does not allow any employer of five or more people to discriminate against employees, applicants, contractors, or interns. So if you think that you were passed over for a position after your internship due to discrimination, your employer may be in violation of the law.

What Rules Generally Do Not Apply to Interns?

For the most part, rules about minimum wage and overtime pay do not apply to unpaid interns. However, sometimes the government can step in to evaluate an unpaid internship to see if the arrangement is actually fair to the intern. California’s standards match the federal standards here.

The government can look into the training provided by the internship, how it is tied to an intern’s academic program, and how their work complements the work of other employees at their workplace. If it seems like the intern should be treated as an employee instead, they would actually be entitled to overtime pay and a minimum wage.

When Should I Call an Employment Lawyer?

There are many good reasons to contact an employment lawyer. We recommend talking to one if:

  • You have experienced discrimination based on protected traits like race, sex, or national origin
  • You think that your internship may not meet federal standards
  • You believe that your position should be paid instead of unpaid based on federal or state rules

Just because you are an intern, that does not mean that you are without protection. A seasoned employment lawyer can help you figure out if you have been mistreated by an employer, and then we can help you rectify the situation.

Contact Our Law Firm

If you think that your employer has violated state or federal employment laws, do not let them get away with it. Contact RD Law Group and meet with our experienced legal team. If there is something that we can do to help you make things right, we are ready to fight by your side.