Aside from being New York’s elected officials, what do Mayor Bill de Blasio, Congressman Charles Rangel, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Helen Rosenthal, Andy King and Vanessa Gibson ALL have in common?
None of them pay their interns, apparently. As the private sector has come under fire for profiting from unpaid intern labor, with lawsuits brought against Gawker, Conde Nast, NBC Universal, the Hearst Corporation and others, DNAinfo wondered why government officials weren’t being held to the same labor standards. Here’s what they found:
That’s because government agencies play by different rules, according to Maurice Pianko, founder of Pianko Law Group and Intern Justice, which specializes in unpaid internship lawsuits.
“Basically there is a general standard that if it’s a for-profit entity a person cannot work for free,” he said. “When it comes to nonprofits there is more leeway but the government is almost on the lowest level of leeway. There are much less rigid standards.”
Rangel’s internship in D.C., which requires interns to attend hearings, write letters to constituents, and run errands, is a 9 AM – 6 PM job when Congress is in session. James’s internship is 35 hours per week in the summer for four weeks and involves similar tasks.
As the city discusses raising the minimum wage, one writer brings up a good point:
“They all call for raising the minimum wage and they are hiring unpaid interns, that seems hypocritical,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, author of ‘Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young.’ “If they think people should be paid $10.10 instead of $7.25 why are they paying their interns zero?”
Funny — zero times 100 is, guess what? Still zero. Politicians, do the right thing and pay your interns.
(Photo: Kevin Case)