Slate Advertising Illegal Unpaid Internships


Slate spent the summer mocking McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants for their low pay. They posted a copy of a proposed McDonald’s workers budget, and also wrote columns supporting the raising of their wages stating:


The point is that once you get past the question of threats to existing or future jobs, the question of basic fairness seems like a no-brainer. If you’re buying a Big Mac, you can probably afford to pay five cents more to ensure the person serving it can afford to pay her rent. And if you’re employing that person, the hit to your bottom line probably won’t be so bad that you have to replace her with this guy.

I think we can all agree that minimum wage is not a lot of money to live on. But you know what is less? Nothing – which is what Slate appears to be paying its interns.  I say that because the job descriptions make it clear you must be eligible for college credit – something many employer’s think allows them to not pay employees. As if plantation owners would have been okay if they’d put some sort of notation on their slave’s transcript.

The government is very clear on when internships can be unpaid. Here are just a few of the requirements:

  1. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  2. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  3. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

Now cross reference that with the Slate descriptions:

They must also be able to work quickly, efficiently, and without much supervision. Strong writing and editing skills are required.

So basically they need someone who has the skills to replace the existing staff and be able to work without supervision. Let’s hope this is just a dream list, like me asking for a girl who looks like Hermoine Granger on my OkCupid profile! Because if Slate plans on using any of the qualities its interns “must” have, then they’re violating wage laws.

As Slate said in it’s McDonald’s post, “It’s easy to get by on a low salary as long as you don’t eat.” The snark logic also holds that it’s easy to get by on no salary so long as you don’t do anything that requires spending money (fingers crossed Slate interns are adept at the barter system).

Plain and simple Slate is a hypocrite. It preaches generosity, but only from the pocketbook of others. Maybe one of these interns can teach Slate some math and that though the minimum wage is not  a lot of money, it is more than zero.

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