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Intern Rights: The Hot New Area of Employment Law?

By Andrew Lu on September 19, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A law firm in New Jersey is banking on intern rights as the burgeoning new area of employment law.

In fact, attorneys Lorin Schneider and Yonatan Rubin are so certain that intern rights will take off that they have devoted their entire firm -- Schneider & Rubin LLC -- to representing interns exclusively, reports NJBIZ.

The two partners say they got the idea to start the intern rights law firm as they looked around job sites like Craigslist and college job fairs and saw so many employers still offering unpaid internships and other illegal positions, reports NJBIZ.

Hot topics for employment law litigation seem to come in waves. For example, meal and rest breaks were a hot area for litigation, as was before- and after- work activities. The reasoning may be that once one class action lawsuit is successful, many other similarly situated employees may also decide to sue.

Despite the short bursts of news last year regarding interns who were not paid and how it may have violated minimum wage laws, class action intern lawsuits have never really taken hold. This may be because former interns never stepped forward because they didn't really have that much at stake or were afraid of angering potential employers. Or the lack of lawsuits may be explained by law firms being afraid to dip their toes into the relatively new area.

Now one of these roadblocks have been removed with the law firm devoted to fighting for intern rights.

Along with minimum wage laws, employers may violate intern rights by using them to replace regular, paid employees -- even if they are receiving college credit, reports NJBIZ. In addition, employers may violate overtime laws, break laws, and record-keeping requirements.

With the economy still slumping, the founders of the interns rights law firm may be on to a smart idea. More and more employers are looking for free and cheap labor through "interns" and with a firm devoted exclusively to these clients, interns looking to enforce their rights will know exactly where to go.

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