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Thanks for a very useful summary, Stephanie. Here is a table showing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S.A._minimum_wages#cite_note-minwage-7 all the US minimum wages. Location can make a difference, too, since Guam (Guahan) is the only US Territory that has a minimum wage as high as the US Federal rate; the others have specific exceptions for lower rates.

Stephanie ---- great article. I haven't kept up with comp/benefit laws in the U.S. in 15 or so years since I have been working international. But I've got a question. I work with foreign grad students --- like getting their masters degree. I would like to know if it is legal not to pay a foreign student anything for an internship (long hours CPA firm during tax season) when the person is actually completing tax returns and filing them? They get university credit for the internship, but it seems a little weird to me that they don't get paid something. What is the law on this?

Hi Jacque - unfortunately I don't know the answer to your question. I'm not a lawyer and can't say whether the situation you described is or is not legal. I'll check with some of my employment attorney contacts and see if I can get some insight from them.

Jacque: It depends on the law where they are. There are special exceptions to the U.S. minimum wage for student employees getting academic credit for their work.

Whether they must be paid is different. Here is a recent NYT article on it: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/former-intern-sues-hearst-over-unpaid-work-and-hopes-to-create-a-class-action/. Your case would seem to fail to satisfy the U.S. law (http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf), particularly because the student is displacing another worker and doing work of value to the employer. See a lawyer to pursue back pay entitlements.

OK thanks Jim. The DOL has answered my question.

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