I suppose at this point we can confidently say this goes far beyond just the entertainment industry, however, all the lawsuits seem to be centered upon it. Unpaid internships. It seemed like the norm, but continuing the status quo isn’t always the right way to go. I’m not looking to state an opinion either way, but here’s the situation.
First off, what is an “intern” really? This question tends to be what these cases revolve around. There must be an explicit distinction between an employee and an intern. However, this distinction never seemed quite so vital prior to these hearings.
Per the recent hearings, an intern cannot be someone who merely answers phones, runs faxes, filing papers, and running errands for employees. While this has been the staple of an internship, the way to get a foot in the door, the inundation of cases regarding internships might change this.
So what is needed? Minimum wage? College-credit? Well, that help and those can be more protection, but it still is unclear exactly what keeps a company safe. One major point is to provide education for the interns — even like a formal learning engagement. Does this still raise the question as to what extent keeps an employer safe? Is a one-day “class” enough for years worth of work, or will there need to be weekly lessons given?
This goes beyond the entertainment industry of course — so what will this do to the working environment? People often complain about the lack of jobs in today’s workplace. Now if companies have to pay interns for work while also establishing ways for the interns to benefit in an educational manner, the number of internships throughout the United States will sharply drop. Being paid or not for internships can most definitely have an effect on being able to pursue an internship, but it is often a way to open the door.
What happened to “paying one’s dues”, and what should one’s dues be? Traditionally, this was the norm and expected of many, especially in the Entertainment world. Many saw it as the only way to get relevant experiences that would one day open the door for the job of their dreams, or at least a step closer to that. You can see how this vastly changes the workforce and structure of many corporations throughout the nation.
In closing, one more question. For these individuals that sued these major Entertainment corporations like Fox — Tinseltown is a small community in reality, and I’m not sure suing an industry leader is something you want on your resume, but now everyone knows!