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August 16, 2010
Unpaid Volunteers and Interns in Your Organization

In a BLR webinar entitled ‘High-Tech Workers: Who’s Entitled to Overtime and Who’s Not; Avoid the Top 5 Most Common Mistakes’, Dan Obuhanych discusses unpaid volunteers and interns in an organization. He states that it is important to note who is a worker and who is not a worker within the organization. Two types of unpaid workers within an organization are the unpaid volunteers and the interns. Volunteers usually work for humanitarian establishments or religious bodies. With volunteers, there is also no contemplation of payment. Unpaid volunteers are generally unlawful in the private sector and are characterized by the following descriptions or situations:

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  • They have training similar to that in a vocational school
  • Training is for the benefit of the intern
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under their close observation
  • The employer derives no immediate advantage, and on occasion operations may be actually impeded
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training
  • The employer and intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages

Dan Ko Obuhanych, Esq., is an attorney in the Mountain View, California office of law firm Fenwick & West, LLP (www.fenwick.com). Dan’s litigation practice focuses on labor and employment law, litigating wage and hour suits, unfair labor practice claims, discrimination/retaliation lawsuits, grievance/arbitration matters, and EEOC/DFEH charges.

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