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Employment Law/Working without pay


My daugther just started a new job (22 yrs) as a chef in training for 4 weeks (3 days a week) without pay for 7hrs each day.  Is this acceptable?

Lisa - Unless the training is part of a course for which your daughter is receiving academic credit, the answer is NO.  Interns must be paid if they are doing any work that is for the benefit of the employer.  If your daughter is just shadowing a chef, and not doing any cooking, the situation may just barely be legal, but I doubt that is an accurate description of what they have her doing.  

Restaurants are notorious for failing to follow employment laws.  New York state has been cracking down on them for the past few years.  The state Labor Department can help her to receive the money she is owed; she could ask the employer to pay her, but she may be better off going directly to the Labor Department and seeking their assistance.  It will give her more protection from retaliation if the government gets involved on her behalf.

Good luck.  

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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