Employers Should Pay Their Interns. Here’s Why

June 9, 2014

By Susan Adams

This spring luxury shoes and accessories company Salvatore Ferragamo posted an unpaid internship listing on LinkedIn. “Retail Intern for its New York Flagship Store,” it reads.  “This position will provide a valuable learning experience for those interested in the day-to-day operations of a luxury goods environment.” Really? “90-95% of the time will be spent on the sales floor working with product, sales associates and answering client questions when possible,” it goes on to say. The interns don’t ring up sales, but instead walk around and presumably try to convince shoppers to buy shoes, scarves and jewelry. They also fix the displays and manage the stock. One of the requirements: “A letter from your school confirming that you can receive school credit.”


I also checked in with one of my regular defense-side employment law sources, Daniel O’Meara, chairman of the employment law division of Philadelphia-based Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads. “Unless it’s a sweeping legal decision in the Second Circuit, it’s not going to change my advice to clients,” he says. “Using unpaid interns is asking for trouble.”

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