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SpongeBob SquarePants, Employment Law Professor

Bravo to Eugene Krabs for bringing the plight of the unpaid intern to the forefront of pop culture. Employees are not allowed to volunteer their time or work for free.

November 12, 2013
Related Topics: Legal Compliance, Staffing and the Law, Minimum Wage, Wages and Hours, Compensation, Legal
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SpongeBob SquarePants

A screen grab from the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "You're Fired." Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon.

On a cold, snowy night in the suburbs of Cleveland, what is there to do besides snuggle on the couch with your 5-year-old son to watch the world premier of SpongeBob, You’re Fired?

That’s exactly what Donovan and I did last night.

Who knew that such high art would provide the inspiration for today’s post?

The story begins with Mr. Krabs firing SpongeBob from his fry-cook job at The Krusty Krab to save a whole five cents by not paying his wage. Minimum wage be damned, SpongeBob offers to work for free to keep his job. Amazingly, the historically cheap Krabs turns him down, telling SpongeBob that he already looked into it, and it’s illegal to let employees work for free.

Bravo to Eugene Krabs for bringing the plight of the unpaid intern to the forefront of pop culture. Unless you meet the very limited test for an unpaid intern, if you have employees, you must pay them. Employees are not allowed to volunteer their time or work for free.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Hyman at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com. You can also follow Hyman on Twitter at @jonhyman.

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