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DOL Abandons 6-Factor Internship Test

The U.S. Department of Labor has updated its fact sheet on internship programs to adopt the
“primary beneficiary” test followed by the Second, Sixth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals. It previously used a six-factor text that refused to allow unpaid internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act if the employer derived any immediate advantage from the relationship. The new seven-factor test adopts a flexible approach, with no single factor being determinative. The seven factors are:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

The Department relied on the following Court of Appeal decisions in formulating its test:

Solis v. Laurelbrook Sanitarium and School, Inc., 642 F.3d 518 (6th Cir. 2011).
Schumann v. Collier Anesthesia, PA, 803 F. 3d 1199 (11th Cir. 2015).
Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., 811 F. 3d 528 (2nd Cir. 2015).
Benjamin v. B & H Education, Inc., Case No. 15-17147 (9th Cir. Dec. 19, 2017).

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