Honest pay for an honest day’s work. It is a simple concept, and is the cornerstone of the American workforce. Sometimes, however, employers try to underpay or under-compensate their employees. This may violate both State and Federal mandates of minimum pay, and the employer may be sued for unpaid wages.
This was the goal of a class action lawsuit in which over 1,000 interns sued the global mass media company Viacom for what they alleged was unpaid work. Traditionally, unpaid internships are permitted under the law, as long as the intern is receiving educational credit. Additionally, the work performed by the intern must benefit their educational experience. Employers, however, often require interns to do work that paid employees traditionally do, and profit from a free work force.
One such intern was Casey O’jeda, who for over half a year interned for Viacom. She worked three days a week, eight hours at a time. She was expected to code, create weekly spreadsheets, and update and reboot websites. O’jeda was never paid for her work, and she is only one amongst hundreds.
Lawyersandsettlements.com is reporting that last week, Viacom agreed to pay its interns listed in the lawsuit a total of $7.2 million, or roughly $5000 per intern, for the work they performed. While internships are a great way to learn through professional experiences, they do not give an employer the right to profit off your work. If you have been unpaid or underpaid by your employer, contact our skilled Boston employment law attorneys at (617) 787-3700 to discuss your legal options.