College students beware; they’re folks out to take full advantage of y’all. And if you aren’t already hip to the shady sides of these relatively fickle mainstream corporations, well, listen up. A 25 year old who previously worked for the world renowned Donna Karan International fashion line in 2009 as an intern had to learn the hard way, as he filed a class-action lawsuit against Donna Karan International for not compensating him during his time there as an intern. Vallentino Smith, a resident of Queens, New York, claims that while he was working there, he clocked in 16 hours a week without pay when he was an undergraduate student working for Donna Karan at its Manhattan headquarters. Smith alleges that he was told the internship would be a great learning experience, but instead all he did was get coffee and organize fashion closets. Smith also felt as if he was used, in hindsight because of “the Fair Labor Standards Act,” whereas it states “that an internship must meet certain criteria to go unpaid without violating the law.” In layman’s terms, this means that the internship must be “for the benefit of the intern” and be “similar to training which would be given in an educational environment,” as reported by New York Daily News:
Smith is seeking retroactive pay for the hours he worked and would like his case to be classified as class-action so he can represent at least 100 other unpaid Donna Karan interns, according to the New York Post.
Smith’s accusations are the latest in a group of lawsuits questioning companies that take on unpaid interns. In June, a former unpaid intern filed a class-action lawsuit against Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records. The intern claims that his work experience included no academic or vocational training and that the company would have had to hire another employee to do his work.
Similarly, former unpaid interns sued Gawker Media that month, claiming the company was in violation of federal law when classifying them as interns to avoid paying wages.