FREE LABOR

Crackdown on Illegal Internships

The job market's brutal for recent college graduates, leading many to work at internships after college instead—but are these post-grads being exploited? The Labor Department is increasing efforts to enforce laws related to unpaid internships in response to widespread violations. Unpaid internships are illegal except in strict circumstances and companies are specifically prohibited from using unpaid labor unless it "derives no immediate advantage" from the position out of fear it will displace regularly paid employees. “If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” the acting director of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division, told The New York Times. There's no clear count of how many unpaid interns are working today, but there are signs the number is drastically high—at Stanford University, some 643 unpaid internships are posted on the school's job board this year versus 174 only two years ago.