University of Chicago Legal Forum


Unpaid internships in the United States often result in social waste by employing workers with valuable skills in positions that fail to efficiently use those skills. Because information asymmetry exists between the employer and the intern, interns are at a disadvantage in determining whether an employer will actually compensate the intern with the opportunity to engage in future, valuable work. Current U.S. law on the issue remains a confusing mess of precedent and administrative law that differs from circuit to circuit. United Kingdom (U.K.) law provides a better solution by resting internship classification on mutuality of obligation combined with the presence of implied employment contracts. As a result, the United States should embrace the judicial ideas of courts in the United Kingdom, and Congress should pass legislation that creates a new employment classification for interns. In tandem, these two solutions should lessen the information asymmetry between employers and potential interns while incentivizing companies to hire interns by providing clear, stable rules.

Start Page