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response from DOL

Posted by forlogos on July 27, 2007

I received a response from the DOL, which was actually the national office. Their response:

For paid internship, the U.S. Department of Labor regulations address employment relationships between employers and employees. Unpaid internships and volunteer work are not considered employment relationships since they are usually at- will and not compensated. However, if the volunteer or intern will be paid for their hours worked, the best office to assist you is the Wage and Hour Division.

The issue of paid internship, you may please visit www.wagehour.dol.gov, or contact the New York City – WHD – District Office at (212) 264-8185 for additional information. If you are unable to reach a representative or have not received a return call within 3 business days, please provide us with your name, address, telephone number and the dates and times you attempted to call the office, so that we can forward your information to your local office.

For unpaid internships and volunteer work are not considered employment relationships since they are usually at-will and not compensated. U.S. Department of Labor regulations address employment relationships between employers and employees. If your state has a law covering this issue, your State Department of Labor office is the best resource to help you with state employment laws.

Regarding unpaid internship, please visit the State DOL Office website at, www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/state_of.htm, to locate your local office, for additional assistance.

Please bear in mind that all I am trying to report is a company that is violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. See this article for more info.

The first thing I thought from the response was “Wow, they sound like they don’t know how the FLSA relates to internships!” Then I started thinking, especially since I couldn’t find much info about legal/illegal internships on the government websites, that my questions aren’t going to get anywhere and this company as well as many others will continue to abuse students. I almost feel that the article and FLSA internship sections were only written to appease some lawmaker’s family somewhere and that there is no system in place to adequately enforce this. Also, the second link in the response leads to a blank page.

Anyway, after some surfing I found my state’s DOL website and quickly sent them a message. Here’s hoping they respond with something other than “contact someone else.”

UPDATE: The second link works now, the server might’ve been too busy the time I tried accessing the page before.


5 Responses to “response from DOL”

  1. Please call me and I will try to assist you.

    Philip Jacobson
    District Director
    New York City District Office
    U.S. Department of Labor
    Wage and Hour Division
    26 Federal Plaza, Suite 3700
    New York, NY 10278
    (212) 264-8185 x 222
    Fax (212) 264-9548

  2. exintern said

    I’m extremely surprised at the response you got. The law seems clear to me and there must be an enforcement mechanism. My initial guess is that the person who responded to your request was ill-informed or misunderstood your question. Hopefully, the commenter above will be able to help you.

  3. […] He got the most unexpected answer: the Department doesn’t even seem aware of the law! “For unpaid internships and […]

  4. forlogos said

    Yes, it was a surprising response. Philip, the commenter above, said it was more of a “standard response” that’s trying to get you to call them for more info. Still though, it didn’t even address how an internship can be in violation.

    I did call Philip and was able to report the company. I’ll be writing about that soon.

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