Browsing Tag

Unpaid intern

Fashion Law

Rise of Unpaid Intern Lawsuits Lead to Rise in Crime

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.

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Business of Fashion, Fashion Law

Unpaid intern lawsuit against Gucci

Unpaid intern lawsuits have been spreading quicker than the flu on public transportation. Gucci is now the latest fashion house to face allegations of having denied workers their due compensation.

The lawsuit was filed this past Tuesday, on behalf of former intern Lindsey Huggins. She and her attorneys hope to scare more money out of Gucci by having filed their lawsuit as a class action lawsuit, they will attract other Gucci interns with similar claims. To this end, the lawsuit includes intern work over the last six years.

Lindsey Huggins et al. v. Gucci America Inc., case no. 161446/2014, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York alleges the usual unpaid intern claim: that interns were required to perform work that does not qualify as education or training.

The attorneys are the same attorneys representing other unpaid fashion intern cases, such as the one against Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and Oscar de la Renta. I do not believe the representation is a coincidence. We do not live in a TV show where there is on go-to “fixer” or attorney who leads a moral brigade against wrongdoers. We live in a world where not all lawyers’ actions are led by law and moral compasses instead of money.

Are unpaid intern lawsuit representatives the new ambulance chasers?

As I mentioned in my previous post about this unpaid intern lawsuit trend, an unemployed 26-year-old NYU graduate said attorneys from the firm Virginia & Ambinder pushed her into filing similar claims. The lawyers found her via LinkedIn and convinced her that her internship “work was little more than indentured servitude.

These attorneys should review the ABA Model Rules of Profesional Conduct and LinkedIn’s policies.

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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.

Business of Fashion, Fashion Law

From Serial Fashion Intern to Serial Fashion Law Complainant

Xuedan “Diana” Wang may be trying to make a living off of fashion law cases. No, she is not a fashion lawyer.

Wang previously sued Hearst claiming that the company violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York state labor laws by misclassifying her and other unpaid employees as interns. Perhaps “the Devil Wears Prada” pushed Wang off the edge. Now Wang is bringing a fashion law case against a jewelry company.

Lorenz Phenton Jewelry for J Crew

Possibly knotted by Wang 😉

For her latest fashion law case, Wang claims to have worked 50-hour unpaid work weeks for Dana Lorenz. Wang’s Manhattan based federal-court filing seeks unspecified damages that include backpay in unpaid wages from Lorenz and her Fenton Fallon Corp.

The U.S. Labor Department mandates that unpaid internships must be educational and “for the benefit of the intern.”

Wang claims that although her official title was “press intern” her duties were broader. Wang says her duties included purchasing jewelry materials, price negotiations, and jewelry construction. Sounds to me like Wang received extra education, beyond press intern 😉

And possibly in another attempt to start an intern lawsuit class action, Wang alleges that there were other unpaid interns “who performed productive work and were paid no wages.”

Although this serial intern clearly knew what she was getting into when she took on her fashion internships, she may have valid standing. And she also may destroy any future unpaid fashion internships.

Such a destruction would not be a win for fashionista wannabes because it would likely mean less opportunity. For-profit employers offering internships will often find it hard to justify a case for unpaid interns doing the traditional heavy entry-level work fashion internships include. To be in compliance with the law, a for-profit employer almost has to be at a detriment in employing an unpaid intern.

 

P.S.
Check out this New York Times article titled “The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not”