• Legal Issues: Judge Denies Unpaid Interns’ Class Status in Hearst Lawsuit

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals
    May 29, 2013

    A New York judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed against Hearst Corp. by a group of unpaid interns suing for back pay. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. ruled that the interns don't meet the definition of a class because the work they participated in and benefits they received were too varied.

    The class action lawsuit—filed by a group of unpaid interns who had worked for various publications in Hearst Corp.’s magazine division—claimed the interns were misclassified by Hearst, since they did the same work and had the same responsibilities as full-time employees. Because of this, the suit argues they should have been afforded the same protections under state and federal labor laws, and should have been paid appropriately.

    Hearst countered that, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 1947 case, “trainees” who work for free during a program of instruction are not employees.

    Judge Baer said Hearst adequately demonstrated that the interns had received training.

    Because of the rulings, any subsequent lawsuits in this matter will have to be filed by individuals.

    For more on the issue of unpaid internships, see NACE’s Position Statement on U.S. Internships: A Definition and Criteria to Assess Opportunities and Determine the Implications for Compensation. 

Legal Issues: Judge Denies Unpaid Interns’ Class Status in Hearst Lawsuit