Late last week Federal Judge William Pauley issued his ruling in Glatt, et. al. v Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc.  While his decision will be most certainly appealed, the logic of his ruling contests the legality of unpaid internships under any circumstances.

Glatt’s internship with Fox Searchlight pictures was structured unlike any I have ever seen or designed.  He performed basically menial level work with little to no educational value and received no credit from an institution of higher learning.

The most chilling part of the ruling involves its focus on item 4 of the DOL’s guidance on unpaid internships that states in part “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern;” Many interns work on projects and contribute to their delivery at an earlier date than would have been otherwise without their contribution.  My reading of the decision is it carves out an expansive definition of “immediate benefit” and, if allowed to stand, would virtually exterminate unpaid internships in the U.S.

Here is a good article by Susan Adams of Forbes on the matter.