Marc Jacobs. Oscar de la Renta. Calvin Klein. Gucci. Kenneth Cole. What do these brands all have in common other than being powerhouses in the fashion industry? They have all been sued by former interns. And, now you can add Burberry to that list.
Former Burberry intern, Lysandra Whitlow, is suing Burberry and claiming that she, along with other interns, were misclassified at interns rather than employees in an attempt to keep labor costs low.
Whitlow is being represented by Leeds Brown Law, P.C. and Virginia & Ambinder, LLP, the two firms who are representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Gucci, and Kenneth Cole.
Similar to those lawsuits, Whitlow has filed her claim under New York state law as opposed to the usual practice of doing so under federal law. Under New York state law, for an employee to be classified as an intern, the internship must satisfy 11 factors, ranging from the internship being for the benefit of the intern and the employer doesn’t derive any advantage from the intern’s work, to advertisements for the position clearly discuss the educational benefits, rather than employment and the training the intern receives is general.
Failure to adhere to all 11 factors results in the employee being classified as an employee and thus entitled to wages and benefits.
Whitlow was an intern for Burberry for 4 months in 2012, and claims to have worked 32 hours a week and held responsibilities normally reserved for paid employees.
Seeing as this is the sixth fashion brand to be hit with a lawsuit by these two firms, I’m sure we will be seeing more lawsuits in the future.