That is the question still being debated today. Over the last few years the debate about paying interns has increasingly heated up, with the first story breaking in 2010 when two interns won the lawsuit they filed against 20thCentury Fox for not being paid a proper salary while working on the Black Swan film set. Since then, more and more interns have begun coming forward, demanding compensation for the long hours they have tirelessly put in.
Several weeks after a judge ruled in favor of the Black Swan interns, two other interns filed a lawsuit against their previous employer, publisher Conde Nast in the same court for violations of labor law. This lawsuit alleges that W magazine and the New Yorker violated New York and federal labor laws by forming unpaid internships like an actual job, rather than a learning opportunity, and seeks to recover wages for the two interns named in the lawsuit. Conde Nast “failed to pay members of the Intern Class minimum wages for all hours worked to which they are entitled under [New York labor law],” the lawsuit says. Over time the internship system has been truly challenged, spurring a movement that has caused more than 15 other lawsuits to be brought to court.
In addition to lawsuits, the Fair Pay campaign is the newest campaign to come from this movement. Its goal is to hire professional organizers to motivate interns in major cities like New York and Los Angeles and bring them together to fight for fairer treatment. The Intern Labor Rights, a group that stemmed from the Occupy Movement, is also joining forces with other like-minded coalitions abroad to form fairer internships.
As a college student, and soon to be starting my second internship this fall, I have to agree with this movement. Interns are an integral part of the operation of all different types of businesses, organizations, and companies, and we should be treated as such. We don’t need to be paid like a top executive, but a little more appreciation would go a long way, especially in our current economy.
Is this a legitimate debate? Or do you think that interns should be happy with the work and experience they are receiving? Let PRowl know!
This guest blog post was written by PRowl Staff Member Jenna Stern.