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waiting to here back from the DOL

Posted by forlogos on July 22, 2007

In the meantime I continue to toil at this unfair internship of mine. It’s been a bit better lately, but it’s more of the interns not listening to Z or Z going out of the office. In any case, I still consider it an unfair waste of time. I don’t quit because I don’t want to sit on my ass at home all day, but it’s usually the first thing I think of doing whenever I get there. Some other fun stuff that’s happened at the internship:

  • Weeks worth of work and research being declared as junk by Z, even though she hadn’t looked at it yet
  • Z declaring other people’s work as A+ and and others C-, all without looking at them
  • Z meeting with clients and turning them off by talking the whole time during the meeting and not letting them say anything
  • Z repeating the same two minutes of speech for an hour

There’s more, but I don’t feel like turning this into a whine-and-complain blog…

Anyway, picking up from my previous internship post, I contacted the people behind FLSA.com. I was told I can file anonymously at the Department of Labor website or through a hotline. But the website basically said that I can file a complaint (for a lawsuit) in person at any DOL office but not anonymously. The phone number was also another dead end.

So I posted my question at the DOL Employment Standards Administration WHD (Wage and Hour Department?) website. I left a pretty general question:

I found this article online: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18945459/ The company where I am currently an intern is clearly violating the FLSA. How can I anonymously report this?

They needed more info, so I responded with:

Based on the article I noted below, the company is making the following violations:

– the interns are not being trained
– there is no training and everything we are asked to do is clearly for the benefit of the company
– all the interns are displacing regular employees. We are all doing work that a regular employee would otherwise do – we are free substitute workers. There are about only three paid employees and about a dozen (twelve) unpaid interns
– the company has immediate advantages from the activities of interns

In addition, not all of the interns are working at the company for school credit. Some have already finished with their school programs – but this doesn’t sound a violation

Going back to my original question, how can I anonymously report this company’s violations?

So hopefully I hear back soon.

I’m thinking the next step I should take is to bring my issue to a bigger blog, one read by the New York Times, WSJ, BusinessWeek, Brandweek, Star-Ledger, Tribune Newspapers, Institutional Investor, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Medical Marketing & Media, Congressional Quarterly, Putnam Media. That blog mostly caters to pharma whistleblowers though.

Anyway, will update when I get a response.


7 Responses to “waiting to here back from the DOL”

  1. William Featherstone said

    I can see the headline now: “Intern gets C-, complains to DoL”.

    It wasn’t *your* weeks and weeks of work she declared as junk, by any chance, was it?

    Perhaps she’d noticed how you spell the word “hear”. If she didn’t, the New York Times will.

    Running whining to Mom whenever you get bad marks works well in grade school but progressively less well thereafter.

    Set up a separate blog and post DAILY to it, with enough detail that people can identify you and the company. Stop running to grown-ups to fight your fights for you. Especially stop running to them anonymously. You’re a lion on the mat so don’t be a chicken off it.

    These scams only continue because people like you help them to continue.

    If you’re afraid of losing out on school credit then you’re behaving like a coward and a slave already. You don’t sound like a coward in other ways. About being a slave – I don’t know. Slavery is a pretty comfortable way of life: you get looked after more of less and everything is someone else’s fault. But are you really going to spend the rest of your life controlled by other people, through school credits, salary, career prospects, and the rest?

    Be open about all this. Start that blog today or tell us why you can’t!

  2. forlogos said

    Thank you for your comments!

    first off, I’m not doing this for school credit. And it wasn’t just my weeks worth of work that was declared junk without it being seen – it was everyone’s.

    Secondly, these scams don’t continue because of people like me. Labor violations will continue to happen unless people speak up. Because people are content to be quiet and not say anything, things will stay the way they are.

    Opening another blog about this company will let other know about how the company treats its interns, which is good. But it isn’t going to make it stop and will not make the issue visible to other companies. How I see it, it will not be as effective as actually just reporting the violations to the authorities responsible for enforcing the FLSA.

    My wanting to report the FLSA violations makes me a whistleblower. And whistleblowers are not people that I would categorize as chickens and cowards. The chickens and cowards are those that see illegal activities and do not do anything about it.

  3. exintern said

    I think you did very well in your communications with the Department of Labor by focusing on the instances where your employer runs afoul of the law. Good luck.

  4. […] intern takes the matter into his own hands An intern has decided to find out how to report anonymously an employer that violates the FLSA.  It seems clear that with 25 unpaid […]

  5. no name given said

    i am very interested in this… my internship is clearly illegal. after interning there from oct 06-aug 07, i was told by hr i should have been getting my small internship wage through part-time pay and be paid as a part-time worker. i was leaving when they told me this. this screwed me out of more than a half year of 401k and health benefits + i wasn’t paid on time because their payroll couldn’t figure out how to pay me for my hours…

    plus, two employees got promoted and i (the intern) took their place for $1o an hr without benefits for 20 hrs a week. according to their hr website, part-time employees should get the 401k and health benefits. i was told after 11 months of work there that i should be paid as a part-time employee. i will never receive these benefits because i am leaving in three weeks.

    what can i do?! my internship was clearly illegal. they have other interns there two who are illegal… please respond to this. i’d love to file a joint-claim or support you in any news media outreach you are doing! i don’t wish to leave a name as i fear it could negatively impact me in my field…


  6. exintern said

    My understanding of the law is that you cannot be an underpaid or unpaid intern if you are taking the place of an employee. That means that if you were earning less than the minimum wage, you may fall under that law. Now, if they did not respect their company’s policy of offering you benefits as a part-time employee, it may be another thing altogether and I’m not sure the section of the law for internships would cover you. There may be another section that focuses specifically on how all employees should be given the same benefits for equal work.

  7. forlogos said

    how I understand it, it’s first an issue of whether you were supposed to be paid or not. If so, then I guess you can file a claim for backwages. And either way, if it’s clearly an illegal internship, the company should be reported.

    I’m not an expert at this, but the best step would be to contact your state’s Department of Labor office (http://www.dol.gov/dol/location.htm) and ask them. That’s the step I’m in right now. Hope we each hear from them soon!

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