Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Business, profit, anything: Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen example

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Jessica Goldstein reports in ThinkProgress on how the Olsens pumped up profits: don’t pay employees:

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion empire is worth an estimated $1 billion. Interns at the Olsens’ Dualstar Entertainment company are unpaid. And, as of Tuesday, they’re suing.

A class-action lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court alleges the Olsens failed to pay 40 past and present interns. Lead plantiff Shashista Lalani, a former design intern, told Page Sixabout her unpaid gig at the Olsens’ Dualstar Entertainment Group in 2012, where she worked under the head technical designer for The Row, the Olsen’s high-end fashion label, for five months.

“I was doing the work of three interns,” Lalani told Page Six.” I was talking to her all day, all night. E-mails at nighttime for the next day, like 10 p.m. at night.” She also says she worked 50-hour weeks and was hospitalized for dehydration. “You’re like an employee, except you’re not getting paid. They’re kind of mean to you. Other interns have cried.” (The Row did not return a request for comment.)

This is the latest in a string of unpaid intern lawsuits — against Conde Nast, Hearst, and Elite Model Management, to name a few — that claim these internships, long a staple of their respective industries, violate state and federal minimum wage laws.

The suits have a handful of key things in common: They’re all from the past five years or so. The defendants are famous corporations and/or individuals, which means the optics are not in favor of the well-heeled and wealthy companies or celebrities neglecting to scrape together pay for their interns.

The industries are in the sectors of media, entertainment, and fashion, where unpaid internships are traditionally considered a right of passage. There is something almost sweet in how sour it is — it’s not unlike the way some Greek organizations or athletic teams feel about hazing — that everyone will go through something objectively bearable-but-bad in order to ascend to true membership. A classic vision of the harried fashion intern persists, with her Devil Wears Prada boss, the samples piled high in the crook of her elbow, stack of Starbucks orders in one hand and a cell phone in the other.

“I think it’s reflective of the fact that advocates in this emerging intern rights movement are trying to identify, as a strategic mater, wealthy, high-visibility companies to bring these lawsuits at,” said David Yamada, a law professor at the University of Suffolk in Boston and founding director of the New Workplace Institute, by phone. “It really underscores the fact that a lot of these internships are, frankly, exploitative, and these are entities that could easily afford to pay interns minimum wage and for whatever reason, they’re not doing so.”

What sparked the explosion of the unpaid intern lawsuit? First, in April 2010, the Department of Labor released “Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act,” a document specifying the requirements employers should meet in order to be exempt from paying minimum wage to interns.

In it, a six point “Test For Unpaid Interns” lists the criteria used to determine whether an internship is “for the [intern’s] own educational benefit.” Included on the list are vague guidelines such as “the internship experience is for the benefit of the intern,” “the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern,” and that “the intern does not displace regular employees.”

“Aren’t most interns at least performing entry level tasks that have to get done in the office?” Yamada said. “Even if somebody is ‘just getting copies’ or running errands, someone elsewould have to do that work if the intern wasn’t doing it.”

The Fact Sheet was met with pushback, notably from thirteen University presidents, including John Sexton of New York University and Mark G. Yudof of University of California,who wrote to the Department of Labor to fight back against these regulations. Plenty of corporations hire unpaid interns through colleges, which in turn award academic credit for the internship, absolving the employer of the obligation to pay interns. But colleges can, and often do, charge interns tuition for the privilege of getting credit for the internship. It is the inverse of the intern’s experience: Instead of doing all the work for no pay, universities do none of the work for all of the pay.

But the case that kicked off this wave of lawsuits belonged to . . .

Continue reading.

Anything—anything at all—to grow profits. And how callous a soul must one have to steal the wages of employees, creating de facto slaves—or at least suspiciously slave-like.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2015 at 12:47 pm

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.

    Like

    conartistocracy

    11 August 2015 at 2:18 pm


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