The number of unpaid internships has skyrocketed over the past years as employers seem to prefer those with experience in the field. “Experience” has become the currency that college students seek to open the door to future employment. Unpaid interns have become the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees. However, they are not paid for the hours worked and lack the normal employment protections offered to employees, such as FLSA and Title VII protections. The court's interest recently has been sparked to define the roles of interns in the labor force and has started to shape intern’s legal protections. As a result, the courts have tried to interpret the Supreme Court case of Walling v. Portland Terminal Co. to define the circumstances under which an unpaid trainee can be considered an employee under the FLSA. Four predominant tests have emerged from circuit court interpretations: the WHD factors (drafted by the Department of Labor), the primary beneficiary test, the totality of the circumstances test, and the Glatt test.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Are they Trainees and Not Employees at All? The Legality and "Economic Reality" of Unpaid Internships,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol13/iss1/10