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Intern or Employee?

What to do to make internships blessings—and not legal blind spots.

Intern or Employee?

In January of 2015, an unpaid intern sued one of the nation's largest TV networks. She sought damages for unpaid wages.

The intern was expected to "perform various tasks," including writing articles, cutting and editing radio features, and creating online content. She claimed the station would have had to hire employees to fulfill the same duties she performed. Additionally, the intern claimed she received no academic benefit. The outcome has yet to be determined. More than likely it will be settled. But cases like these are popping up nationwide.

So what does a TV network labor dispute have to do with a church? TV networks and churches are governed by the same set of rules for internships. We can learn a lot from a case like this and how to prevent a similar claim against your church in the future.

Many churches, ministries, and charities rely upon volunteers and independent ...

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David Middlebrook is an attorney and the managing partner of Middlebrook Goodspeed, a firm focused on churches, ministries, and clergy. Middlebrook advises clients and colleagues on an array of church- and ministry-related legal issues, including corporate governance, employment law, risk management, intellectual property, and compensation practices.

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Posted:
  • October 20, 2015

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