Lacoste and Zac Posen have both been hit by lawsuits by former interns claiming they were misclassified as interns and are owed compensation for their time with each brand. That brings a total of 9 fashion brands, including Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Gucci, and Donna Karen, being sued by former interns over the past couple months. And, all 9 are being represented by Virginia & Ambinder LLP and Leeds Brown Law PC.
Allam Qayyem is suing Lacoste and is claiming that during his time with the company in 2012, he contributed significantly to the company. Working as an accounting intern, he researched tax records, scanned and filed documents, prepared spreadsheets and worked upwards of 20-25 hours each week during his 4 month internship.
Former intern, Kevin Shahroozi, is suing Zac Posen, whom he interned for in 2013. Shahroozi claims that he worked 21 hours a week during his 5 month internship at the fashion house. His duties included sketching, cutting patterns, sewing, and researching in books and magazines. Shahroozi is claiming that he “provided an immediate advantage” to the fashion house and that Posen benefitted significantly from his work.
Both have requested the court to certify the lawsuits as class actions so that other former interns may join in the suit.
Just like the other 7 lawsuits filed, these lawsuits are based on New York state law, rather than the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. New York state law contains 11 factors that the company must adhere to in order to be able to classify an intern as an intern. If company doesn’t meet any of the 11 factors, the intern will be considered misclassified and entitled to compensation for their work.
It seems that these two law firms are not slowing down and are one by one filing suits against major fashion brands. However, they aren’t just targeting the fashion industry, which, admittedly, is notorious for its difficult and arduous internships, but they are also going after entertainment and media companies, having recently filed suits on behalf of former interns against Rolling Stone Magazine, CBS Corp., and Universal Music Group, among others.
And, based on recent rulings and settlements in favor of former interns claiming they were entitled to compensation for their work, it will be interesting to see how the courts decided these lawsuits.