And so the class actions by former fashion interns continues. This time the lawsuit has been brought against The Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen‘s high end fashion line. The interns are claiming that they were entitled to pay and were misclassified as interns because their responsibilities were those normally associated with employees and were subjected to excessive amounts of work and unfairly long hours.
The class action consists of about 40 former interns and the principal plaintiff, Shahista Lalani. Lalani is a former design intern who worked for The Row for 5 months in 2012.
Her claims include 50-hour workweeks, a hospitalization for dehydration, and responsibility of menial or degrading tasks including late-night emails, and sorting buttons as well as running personal errands for her bosses.
Back in April, Condé Nast settled the unpaid intern class action lawsuit that former W Magazine intern, Lauren Ballinger and former New Yorker intern, Matthew Leib had filed against the publishing giant. However, the negotiations for the actual terms of the settlement have been ongoing.
Finally, it seems that the negotiations have concluded and Condé Nast has agreed to $5.8 million to 7,500 former interns with amounts ranging from $700 to $1,900. This class action suit is what Condé Nast to temporarily terminate their internship program last year, which was a shock heard around the world as Condé Nast internships are the most coveted in the fashion industry.
CEO Chuck Townsend was quoted as saying that this settlement “is the right business decision for Condé Nast, as it allows us to focus our time and resources on developing meaningful, new opportunities to support future up-and-coming talent.”
And, so the Condé Nast unpaid internship legal battle comes to an end, and the publishing giant will perhaps start a new internship program to go with their new digs at One World Trade Center!
Last week, both Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs International were sued by former interns, claiming owed compensation. Another brand has been hit with the same lawsuit. Calvin Klein and parent company, PVH Corp., have been sued by former intern, Rajwinder Kaur, who claims that Calvin Klein misclassifies their interns in an effort to avoid paying them and thus keeping labor costs low.
Kaur interned for the American brand in 2009 and explains her complaint that her responsibilities included data entry, fashion show production, research and maintenance of samples. She goes on to state that she worked about 30 hours a week and did not receive compensation for her time at the brand. She also claims that she did not receive any education or training while at Calvin Klein. She is asking that the court certify a class action suit so other former interns may join the lawsuit.
Do the facts of this lawsuit sound familiar? Because they are the exact facts of the complaints filed against Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs last week. Literally. All three lawsuits claim that the respective intern conducted tasks that would be classified as employee-level rather than intern-level. All three lawsuits claim that the brand in question misclassifies interns to avoid paying them. All three lawsuits claim that each brand is violating New York state law rather than the more common federal Fair Labor Standards Act. All three lawsuits ask the court for a class action certification. And, the reason for these common facts among all three lawsuits is because all three plaintiffs are being represented by Virginia & Ambinder LLP and Leeds Brown Law PC.
Two fashion houses, Marc Jacobs International and Oscar de la Renta, have become the latest in the fashion industry to be hit with unpaid internship lawsuits.
Marc Jacobs International, which houses the brands Marc Jacobs and Marc by Marc Jacobs, has been sued by former intern, Linney Warren, for failing to pay interns. Warren was a production intern for Marc Jacobs from April to June 2009.
In her complaint, she claims that Marc Jacobs’ internship program violates New York state law and misclassifies entry level employees as interns in an effort to avoid paying employees and minimizing costs. Warren claims that during her internship she worked 70-hour weeks and performed tasks such as transporting raw materials, organizing fabrics, sewing and running errands for her supervisors.
Oscar de la Renta was also sued this week by former intern, Monica Ramirez, who interned for the brand between January and April 2009, for failure to pay interns.
In her complaint, Ramirez claims that the fashion house also improperly classifies entry level employees at interns and therefore avoids paying these employees. Ramirez claims that the work she performed is classified as entry level rather than intern work. These tasks included making jewelry, delivery fabric and accessories and dressing models.
As mentioned above, Ramirez is claiming that Oscar de la Renta is violating New York state law rather than the more common Fair Labor Standards Act that many unpaid internship lawsuits are predicated on. Both lawsuits claim that each company is violating the standards set out by the New York state law for determining whether an individual is classified as an intern or an employee.