Lawsuit : Many Unpaid College Interns Deserve Wages - WSPA.com

Lawsuit : Many Unpaid College Interns Deserve Wages

Posted: Updated:
Brand - Community Watchdog L7 Brand - Community Watchdog L7
GREENVILLE, S.C. -

 Stephanie Figerle spends 95% of her workday doing the least glamorous jobs.

"It's bad. It's cleaning up poop all day," Figerle said.

The Davidson student is a full-time intern, one of nearly a dozen at the Greenville Zoo.

"I come in a at 8. We do cleaning in the morning which, definitely in the summertime, it's hard," she said.

Zoo interns work as many as 11 weeks, up to 5 days a week, working with animals or teaching children.  None of them earn a dime and only some earn college credit.

"We knew what we were getting into so that's part of it," said Lillie Wardell and intern in the education department who teaches children at some of the zoo's many summer camps.

Zoo director Jeff Bullock said the zoo isn't taking advantage.

"It's an opportunity for them to get experience. They have the opportunity to leave, we aren't keeping them in chains," Bullock said.

The zoo is exempt from many of the strictest federal rules about unpaid interns.  The law for government, non-profit, religious or charity jobs allows them to qualify as volunteers.  

But many interns at for-proft jobs profiteserve far more than they get.

A class action lawsuit filed in Federal court claims some interns are "becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them."

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act there are six criteria applied before allowing an unpaid internship at a for-profit company.

The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;

2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers students in unpaid internships are about half as likely to get a job after graduation as those who have paid internships and they have no advantage over those with no internship at all.

Students in paid internships also earn far more than their unpaid peers at their first job.  Unpaid interns, on average, earn less than graduates who do not do any internship.

Stephanie Figerle is getting college credit for her work at the zoo.  She doesn't seem to mind the work.

"I'd rather do this job for the rest of my life and be happy than wake up every day and be miserable at a job," Figerle said.

     

     at least a job...would have a paycheck.

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Help Needed To Find Robert Price, Missing Easley Man

    Help Needed To Find Robert Price, Missing Easley Man

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:25 AM EDT2014-04-24 15:25:40 GMT
    Robert Moore PriceRobert Moore Price
    The Pickens County Sheriff's Office is asking for help to find a missing man from Easley. Robert Moore Price, 81, hasn't been heard from since a phone conversation around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday when he advised a family member he was lost and might be at an unknown address in Georgia.
    The Pickens County Sheriff's Office is asking for help to find a missing man from Easley. Robert Moore Price, 81, hasn't been heard from since a phone conversation around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday when he advised a family member he was lost and might be at an unknown address in Georgia.
  • VIDEO: Horse Carriage Crashes In Charleston Market

    VIDEO: Horse Carriage Crashes In Charleston Market

    Thursday, April 24 2014 11:20 AM EDT2014-04-24 15:20:46 GMT
    The incident happened at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday on North Market Street and Anson Street.The incident happened at 5:10 p.m. Tuesday on North Market Street and Anson Street.
    Police in Charleston released video showing an accident when a carriage horse was spooked and crashed in the downtown Market district. One pedestrian along with three people on the carriage suffered scrapes and bruises. Our sister station WCBD-TV reports the horse is all right.
    Police in Charleston released video showing an accident when a carriage horse was spooked and crashed in the downtown Market district. One pedestrian along with three people on the carriage suffered scrapes and bruises. Our sister station WCBD-TV reports the horse is all right.
  • UC Synergetic Bringing 130 Jobs To Fort Mill

    UC Synergetic Bringing 130 Jobs To Fort Mill

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:31 AM EDT2014-04-24 14:31:13 GMT
    UC Synergetic made a 10- year commitment to Fort Mill to put the headquarters in South Carolina.UC Synergetic made a 10- year commitment to Fort Mill to put the headquarters in South Carolina.
    UC Synergetic plans to move it's corporate headquarters to Fort Mill and bring 130 jobs to York County. The engineering and technical services company - which supports power and communications utilities - will invest $2.2 million for the office on North White Street
    UC Synergetic plans to move it's corporate headquarters to Fort Mill and bring 130 jobs to York County. The engineering and technical services company - which supports power and communications utilities - will invest $2.2 million for the office on North White Street
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.