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Charlie Rose sued for violating unpaid internship guidelines

Television journalist and talk show celebrity Charlie Rose has been accused by a former intern of failing to pay legally required wage benefits.

Employers are allowed to offer unpaid internships and many San Diego residents have probably had an unpaid internship at some point while attending college or grad school. But employers can only offer unpaid internships under specific guidelines. One guideline is that an unpaid internship must provide an intern with valuable training and education.

According to the former unpaid intern who worked with Charlie Rose, her internship did not involve any training. Her lawsuit argues that calling her position an internship was simply an excuse to violate labor laws by having her work for free.

The guidelines under established labor laws are fairly stringent, but are sometimes violated by employers who count on the fact that many interns, eager for the experience, do not realize that they may be legally entitled to compensation. In this case, the female intern performed editorial duties on the nighttime Charlie Rose show, which is aired on over 200 local Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations.

The intern worked approximately 25 hours a week, and the show reportedly used as many as 10 unpaid interns at a time. The intern's lawsuit, which she seeks to have certified as a class-action suit, claims that none of the interns were paid and that the internships did not truly incorporate an educational component.

Such unpaid internships without vocational or academic education violate both federal labor laws and the labor laws of many states. Additionally, employers are not supposed to use internships to replace regular part-time or full-time employees. Internships are supposed to be primarily for the benefit of the intern, not the employer.

Source: Reuters, "Intern sues TV host Charlie Rose for unpaid wages," Christine Kearney and Patricia Reaney, March 14, 2012