Internship Wages

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Internship Wages

I recently got an internship position. I signed a contract promising 17.2 hours at a certain hourly pay. After starting my first week, I was notified that I would work 40 hours but only be paid the 17.2. Doing the math with the full-time work week and partial pay results to only 8 per hour, far below the legal minimum per hour. Is this legal to do?

Asked on June 14, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is most likely not legal. The only time interns may be paid less than minimum is when the "employer" is essentially functioning as a training program for them: the intern is closely supervised, is learning a trade or skill, the training benefits the employee, the employer does not immediately benefit from providing the internship (i.e. it's not a way to get a "cut-rate" employee). Otherwise, if the intern is essentially doing what a "regular" employee might and the employer is essentially saving on having to hire another "regular" employee by having an intern, the intern IS an employee and must be paid at least minimum wage.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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