An incredible number of unpaid internships in the United States are illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The FLSA created a six point test to determine if an internship is allowed to be unpaid. However, companies do not have to apply their internship programs to the government in order to determine their legality. The government does not track unpaid internships and therefore there are no consequences to companies except for lawsuits, which have increased dramatically in the last three years.
Not only are unpaid internships frequently exploited, even legal unpaid internship programs should be eliminated from the US Labor Force. There are many people who simply cannot afford to work for free, and by allowing this practice to continue, the federal government is promoting upward mobility of people in higher income levels to the exclusion of those from lower economic classes. Unpaid internships must go in order to create equal opportunity in education and employment for people of all economic status.