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Do employers have to pay Illinois interns?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2013 | Firm News

The Department of Labor (DOL) states that unless an employer is a non-profit organization, using an intern for unpaid labor is against the law according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Many businesses experiencing a down-turn attempt to find interns who are willing to provide free labor simply for the opportunity of gaining experience, or a “trainee” in their desired career choices.  The DOL has specific criteria that a company must meet in order to differentiate between an employee and a trainee for FLSA compliance.

Employment and Intern Criteria

The DOL criteria for determining if an employer has to pay interns in Illinois are:

  • The intern or trainee must receive training closely related to what an academic or vocational environment would provide.
  • The intern or trainee is working under the supervision of an employee and being closely observed.
  • The internship is for the express benefit of the intern or trainee.
  • The intern or trainee does not take the place of a regular employee.
  • The intern or trainee benefits far more than the employer.
  • The intern or trainee is not guaranteed future employment with the employer.
  • The intern or trainee understands that they will not be paid for their training with the employer.

Unless all of the above criteria are met, an employer may be subject to paying the intern or trainee:

  • Minimum pay wages
  • Overtime wages
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Federal and State tax liabilities
  • Fines
  • Possible discrimination law suits
  • Legal fees

Employment Lawyer in Chicago

Goldman & Ehrlich are the top employment lawyers in Chicago, and are well-acquainted with the constantly changing employment laws.  If you have questions regarding whether to employ an intern or trainee, contact Goldman & Ehrlich to insure that your company is complying with DOL and FLSA guidelines.

Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawyers

As summer approaches, teenagers begin thinking about and looking for a summer job.  A summer job is often the first exposure a teenager has to the workplace environment, whether it’s in an office, a construction site, a restaurant, or retail store, etc.

It is up to the employer to educate and train these young people concerning appropriate work ethic, dress, behavior, and interacting with their co-workers and customers.  Teaching teenagers to recognize sexual harassment, how to avoid it in their own behavior, reporting it, and responding appropriately if they encounter it, are valuable tools for both the teenager and the employer.

Employers should always be explicit in communicating their expectations, and clearly define that sexual harassment of any kind is totally unacceptable and is to be reported immediately should it occur.  By laying down the ground rules for teenagers beginning their summer jobs, employers can avoid sexual harassment law suits in addition to helping their employees enjoy a productive and harassment free work environment.

Concerns to Address for Teenagers and Summer Jobs in IL

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the following concerns should be addressed when training teenagers for summer jobs:

  • Sexual harassment is NEVER acceptable behavior in the work environment, regardless of who it may involve, including supervisors, co-workers, delivery personnel, customers, or the owner of the business.  Any hint of inappropriate remarks or behavior should be stopped before it escalates and is interpreted as sexual harassment which is unlawful.


  • According to EEOC, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior in the workplace.


  • Appropriate training should include helping employees differentiate between acceptable behavior outside and inside the workplace by demonstrating clear examples of such behavior.


Properly training teenagers to behave professionally during their summer employment, and to recognize inappropriate behavior from co-workers, and/or customers, will provide them with the skills they will need when they begin their adult careers.


If you have concerns regarding sexual harassment involving your teenage son or daughter, contact Goldman & Ehrlic, Illinois sexual harassment experts,  today.

Illinois Non-Compete Clauses and Employement

Non-compete clauses in an employment contract should be reviewed by your Chicago employment lawyers at Goldman & Ehrlich before you agree to sign the contract. Our firm has resolved many employer/employee non-compete disputes, and are considered to be top Illinois employment experts.

Considerations in a Non-Compete Dispute

Once a non-compete agreement has been signed by both the employee and the employer, it might appear to be a closed issue; however, the court will look at a number of factors before deciding one way or the other. Some of these factors are listed below:

  • Are employer trade secrets involved in the non-compete clause?  In other words, does the employer have legitimate secret information pertaining to the on-going business activities of the company that is not easily accessible to those outside the company such as inventory and pricing?
  • Did the employee have relationships with the customer base before they became an employee of the company, or was the relationship a result of their employment with the company involving the non-compete agreement?
  • Does the employee have possession of certain confidential data that may be stored on a company issued computer?
  • When was the employee asked to sign the non-compete agreement?  Was the employee requested to sign a non-compete agreement, and then immediately, or within a short timeframe, fired from his/her position.
  • Will the non-compete agreement prevent the employee from obtaining a job in his designated area of expertise?

Chicago Employment Lawyers

Goldman & Ehrlic is a premier Chicago employment law firm with the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the constantly changing employment laws.  They will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure you are being treated fairly.

Contact Goldman & Ehrlich today to review your employment non-compete agreement or for help in resolving a dispute over a non-compete contract.