Business of Fashion, Fashion Law

Wang’s Unpaid Intern Lawsuit Update

Remember Xuedan Wang? Well, you might remember her as the woman who cried continuous unpaid intern who should have been paid.

Catch up on this serial fashion intern turned serial fashion law complainant here.

Xuedan Wang v. The Hearst Corporation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 12cv793

Wang claimed that Hearst and other interns at the company’s magazines were actually unpaid employees slaving under the guise of unpaid intern titles.

Wang’s initial lawsuit claimed that her unpaid intern status at Harper’s Bazaar violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York state labor laws. According to a Facebook page dedicated to Wang’s intern class action lawsuit attempt, Wang “worked seven unpaid internships before she got fed up.”

I am totally down for unpaid internships. You can get your foot into the door, impress some important people, and exchange your hard work for cool resume credit. But seven longterm unpaid internships? Maybe Wang should have instead started a blog about her unpaid adventures. Or even sought paid work. Or perhaps lawsuits were her plan to get paid all along.

Wang did not get the class action lawsuit status she was after

The judge who presided over the employment misclassification filing, U.S. District Judge Harold Baer, found that the

“former interns failed to meet the bar set out in the Supreme Court’s landmark 2011 case Dukes v. Wal-Mart to constitute a class action. Specifically, Baer found that the interns did not meet the standards of commonality and predominance needed to be considered a class.”

What happens when a class action fails to meet class status

Wang and co. can still sue Hearst individually. But the interns would be seeking minimum wage backpay, and the cost to litigate such a case is probably just not worth the time and chance. Wang could instead use the time to find a paid position.

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