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Wage and hour disputes: should interns work for free?

People who do a job for an employer deserve fair pay for what they have done. However, there are many people who apply for internship positions in exchange for experience, mentoring and future opportunities, not necessarily a paycheck. There are times when an internship should really be a paying job, however, and this could potentially lead to wage and hour disputes in the future. 

Some wonder if unpaid internships are even legal. Many of the people who take internships, such as college students looking to start their careers in the near future, do so knowing they won’t get paid. However, there are Tennessee companies that may take advantage of the prospect of free labor, and others may be breaking labor laws with their internship programs and not even know it.

Technically, unpaid internships are legal. However, in order for it to be a legal arrangement, the intern must be the one who primarily primarily, not the employer. This is quite subjective, and it can be difficult to determine which party is receiving the most benefit. There is a specific test, the Primary Beneficiary Test, that can help an employer or intern decide if the arrangement is fair and legal. 

If a person believes that his or her employer is violating labor laws or failing to pay them when they’ve earned wages, it could be grounds for legal action. It’s not easy to go up against an employer, but a Tennessee intern or employee does not have to do this alone. It can be beneficial to work with an attorney experienced in cases related to wage and hour disputes