News & Commentary

July 6, 2016

Lauren Godles

Lauren Godles is a student at Harvard Law School.

How do unpaid interns in D.C. get by?  With a little help from their parents, of course.  The New York Times profiled several unpaid interns in the nation’s capital who, unsurprisingly, either rely on significant parental support or must work nights and weekends to make ends meet.  The Times reports that only “very few” of the thousands of Congressional interns are paid, while the White House pays none of its nearly 100 interns.  Economists worry that free intern labor may lead to lower wages in Washington, while simultaneously creating a “glass floor” – effectively blocking access to prestigious positions for children from low and middle-income families.

The Democratic National Committee released its draft Party Platform last week, and the first substantive item is a commitment to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  Politico points out that this position represents a win for Bernie Sanders, who has been a key player in the Fight for $15.  Meanwhile Hillary Clinton supports a $12 minimum wage, with higher wages in some urban areas.  Last Friday, July 1, Oregon adopt a tiered minimum wage system that tracks Clinton’s model.  Increases under Oregon’s plan are based on the population density of the employer’s location.  The Democratic Platform also notably includes sick and family leave.

The Connecticut Department of Labor is offering free employment workshops to its residents this summer, and preliminary data from a study by MDRC suggests the state is on the right track.  The New York Times reports that unemployed and low-wage workers who enrolled in job training programs over two years earned 14% more on average than the control group that did not participate in training.  The exact amount of the increase varied based on the nature of the training, with those trained in I.T. earning significantly more than their counterparts in construction and environmental remediation.

Last week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals found, for the first time, an implied action for wrongful discharge under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act. The surprising and expansive holding will allow affected employees to sue the employer for damages in addition to lost wages. Read more from JD Supra

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