Earlier this month, a former unpaid intern of British fashion house, Alexander McQueen, filed a lawsuit against the company claiming she worked for four months without being paid. This case was not the first, and certainly not the last, of disgruntled interns taking action against former employers in the fashion industry who “did them wrong.”
Last September, 25-year-old Vallentino Smith filed a suit against Donna Karan New York for not paying him minimum wages ($7.15/hour) while he was an undergraduate intern at the company’s Seventh Avenue headquarters during the spring semester of 2009.
Smith, a young man from Queens with aspirations of a career in marketing, accepted the internship at the glamorous industry as a resume booster. But, according to the lawsuit, Smith was never given an opportunity to show off his marketing skills as he, and many other interns, spent the majority of their time performing non-marketing tasks: such as fetching coffee and organizing clothes in the fashion house’s closets.
As reported in NYDailyNews, Smith said that he was told the internship would be a “great learning experience.” He logged 16 hours a week for the fashion house. Smith claimed that his undergraduate internship was nowhere near the “learning experience” that was described during his interview.
Smith, now holding a master’s degree from Long Island University, is demanding Donna Karan pay back lost wages, in addition to seeking a class action status for the suit on behalf of other unpaid interns who have also worked at Donna Karan. Karan supposedly took on at least two dozen unpaid interns during the same period that Smith worked there.
Text reference via NY Daily News + Intern Justice, photo reference via ArcStreet