Rise of Unpaid Intern Lawsuits Lead to Rise in Crime

August 2015

There is going to come a time when Americans bemoan the absence of interns. But before then, we will have many teens and twenty-somethings without supervised work to occupy their time. And consequently the workforce will see a rise in young professionals who are ill-prepared to make collated copies. A rise in crime will inevitably follow.

Being a fashion law blogger, I have covered many employment law cases involving unpaid interns (find links at end of this post). In my fashion law news articles and updates I lean towards being Switzerland. But I am tired of unpaid intern claims.

Let me be clear, it is not fine to mislabel employees as interns.

But if you were to go to KFC for extra crispy chicken after workouts instead of making skinless chicken with veggies, should you expect your results to be like the reasonable person who exercises the same as you but calculates macros and opts for post-workout protein shakes? No! We are not all me circa my DOB through 2013. RIP former metabolism. I hope to find you again at least before 30.

Back to my topic, if you are lucky enough to land an unpaid fashion internship, should you expect to get paid? No! Those professing otherwise will cause problems.

Certainly you should not expect to displace an actual employee. But long hours? Yes. Fashion does not sleep. Why should you? Invest in something like La Mer and caffeine it up.

In The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway Andrea did not end up hospitalized working for Miranda Priestly. Of course, Emily did. —So maybe you cannot rule out a hospital visit. But even Emily did not work herself to the point of dehydration.

Employee or not, you ARE allowed water. And you ARE entitled to rest breaks.

To suffer dehydration while arduously organizing buttons by color is ridiculous. But according to a lawsuit filed against the Olsen Twins’ company, this scenario basically happened. To Shahista Lalani.
I imagine that her dehydration is only one example of a critical lesson from her internship training: Drink water. Especially if you are running around NYC carrying clothes in the summer heat.

Lalani and 39 other former and current Olsen Twins interns filed a class action against Dualstar Entertainment Group. The lawsuit claims that the Olsen Twins’s company failed to pay interns a minimum wage required for employees.

Okay, maybe there is not a true causal link to rise in crime. But consider the following:

  • Most crimes occur out of opportunity
  • Less unpaid internships would mean more unemployed young people (because a crackdown on unpaid internships is unlikely to mean a rise in number of paid internships)
  • That old proverb, that “idle hands are the devil’s playground” lives on for a reason
  • Coworker on coworker crime could occur if the workforce were inundated with inexperienced people, causing a decline in billable hours

P.S. Failure to pay interns the requisite minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act has been a hot legal issue in recent years.

P.P.S. More high profile unpaid intern lawsuits covered in Gucci lawsuit, Wang v. Hearst lawsuit, and Dana Lorenz lawsuit.

 

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