An intern takes the matter into his own hands

July 25, 2007

An intern has decided to find out how to report anonymously an employer that violates the FLSA. It seems clear that with 25 unpaid employees, his employer has put herself in an illegal situation. We will keep you posted of major developments.

We need more of these interns aware of those situations who take the time to report their employers if the situation is ever to improve.

Update: He got the most unexpected answer: the Department doesn’t even seem aware of the law! “For unpaid internships and volunteer work are not considered employment relationships since they are usually at-will and not compensated. U.S. Department of Labor regulations address employment relationships between employers and employees.” He’s pursuing the issue. This is getting even more interesting.


Intern worked to death?

September 28, 2006

Could an intern have been worked to death by an unnamed American firm in Korea? This is what the Korean Herald reported in its September 4, 2006 edition:

The Korean branch of a leading U.S. multinational company may face a lawsuit after an intern died from a heart attack while working late at the firm. The father of the intern, identified by his family name Moon, told The Korea Herald that he will file a lawsuit seeking damages.

Saying his son was fit and healthy, Moon said the heart attack was caused by overwork and stress from the competitive internship. “I’m preparing a lawsuit. The company has been very cold about the accident,” he said. The firm said it believes the young man’s death is not an industrial accident, saying he worked there for only 17 days.

The 28-year-old collapsed while sitting at his desk at 10:40 p.m. on July 19, police said. News of the incident did not become public until recently. The National Institute of Scientific Investigation, which conducted the autopsy, determined that the cause of death was “sudden cardiac attack.” “The sudden death … can be induced by putting stress on your body physically and mentally: mental agitation, overwork, labor, excessive drinking, overeating etc,” it wrote.

Moon’s father said, “He did not suffer any diseases. Neither did he smoke nor drink.”

He said that his son was under a lot of stress to be selected as a full-time employee at the company. The company recruits regular employees through an internship program and the competition is fierce. Moon, a graduate of the prestigious Yonsei University, was one of 20 people who landed the internship among 3,200 applicants.

“He left home at 6 p.m. and came back at night. He really wanted to get the job.”

(…)

The intern’s death has highlighted the competition in the nation’s tight job market. Even internships are very competitive as it is a stepping stone to landing a job. The competition rate for summer internships this year at Loreal Korea was 50; 1 while it was 135:1 at SK Communications, according to a survey by a job portal website Career.com.

I don’t see why this hasn’t been mentioned in the US press. Are they unaware of it? I couldn’t find anything else about this in the news. Is it true at all?