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Unpaid Internships: Are They Subject to Minimum Wage Requirements?

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With summer approaching, companies will be looking to hire students to work as interns during summer break. While some students are lucky enough to find paid internships, many will find unpaid positions or positions with stipends that pay less than minimum wage. From the employer’s perspective, they get a worker willing to learn on the job for little or no pay because they don’t have the same skill or expertise that regular employees would provide. From the student’s perspective, the practical experience, networking and resume building may be worth more than any paid position. 

Employers must remember that the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) may apply to summer interns, meaning even unpaid interns could potentially be considered employees and thus be protected by the FLSA’s minimum wage requirements. The Department of Labor uses a six-part test to determine whether an intern is considered an employee or not. 

Misclassification of an intern can expose an employer to unintended and substantial liability. If you are thinking about using unpaid interns this summer, please call an employment attorney at our office to help you structure a program that will meet federal and state requirements to keep interns from being classified by the Department of Labor as employees. It is also important to know that courts in different parts of the country have applied different tests in unpaid internship cases, so if your company has employees outside the state of Illinois, you will want an experienced employment law attorney to review each location’s requirements.

MMR shareholder Deanna Litzenburg has nearly 20 years of experience practicing law and has been very successful in the employment cases she has worked on. She has also spoken at numerous venues regarding employment law and workers' compensation. To learn more about Deanna and her career, visit her biography by clicking here

Amy Randazzo has been a law clerk at MMR since 2015 and just graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law.

Healthcare Provider Liens in Illinois – Who Gets Paid when a Patient is Injured in an Accident?

by Natalie T. Lorenz, Attorney at Law

When an individual is injured in an accident, the Illinois Health Care Services Lien Act (the “Act”) may limit the lien that the healthcare professionals and providers who treated that individual for his injury can have on the patient’s recovery against the at-fault party. When the injured individual obtains a settlement from, or judgment against, the at-fault party, the Act limits the total amount of medical liens to 40% of the settlement or judgment, as applicable. All medical lienholders are to share proportionate amounts, subject to the 40% limit.

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Life Insurance Premium Default Notices in Illinois: Proper Notification is Essential for the Denial of Benefits

by Natalie T. Lorenz, Attorney at Law

The Illinois Insurance Code protects owners of life insurance policies when there has been a default in premium payments, but the insurance agency has not given proper notice of default to those owners. The Illinois Insurance Code provides, “No life company shall declare any policy forfeited or lapsed within six months after default in payment . . . unless a written or printed notice . . . shall have been duly addressed and mailed . . . to the person whose life is insured . . . .” Although this statute does not mention that notice is also required to be given to owners of life insurance policies, if they differ from the insureds, the Illinois courts have expanded the statute’s reach so that owners must be given notice as well.

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Illinois Department of Labor Clarifies Stance on Employers’ “Use It or Lose It” Vacation Policies

by Kevin J. Richter, Shareholder and Scott Johnston, Law Clerk at Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. & Student at Saint Louis University School of Law.

Revisions made in 2014 to Illinois employment rules and regulations caused some uncertainty with regards to vacation policies. Specifically, the position the Department of Labor took on “use it or lose it” policies resulted in confusion because a provision was added that prohibits the forfeiture of earned vacation by a written policy, while the provision authorizing “use it or lose it” policies remained in the regulation. In response to the confusion, the Department of Labor has released some “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) that offer guidance and examples.

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I've Suffered a Serious Injury, But I Can't Afford a Lawyer

by Mark S. Schuver, Shareholder

Many people suffer serious personal injuries and damages due to the fault of another party, but fail to seek compensation because they can’t afford the high price of a personal injury attorney. Attorneys often charge hourly rates of $300, $400, $500 per hour, or more! Unless you’re Bill Gates, you may not be able to afford to hire an attorney to pursue your rights.

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