Inside the Law: New federal guidelines for unpaid internships

May 14, 2018 - 3:00 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Most people complain about their unpaid internships because they did nothing but grunt work. Not so for one internet poster who, when interning for a dentist, was allowed to pull out a man's tooth. 

The intern was a high school student. It kind of makes me wonder if a legal intern might want to learn how to file a lawsuit against that dentist. 

As summer approaches, many students are applying for unpaid internships to gain experience even if they aren't being paid. But in recent years, scared off by class action lawsuits and by Department of Labor rulings against companies that didn't pay at least minimum wage, companies had been doing away with unpaid internships. 

But the government recently released new guidelines that set a more flexible standard for when employers can hire unpaid interns and allow them provided that the internship primarily benefits the intern rather than the company by having the intern provide free labor to displace employees. 

As a result, students may find that this summer, trying to find an internship isn't as much like pulling teeth.