Photo: New York Magazine
A 27-year-old unpaid intern who sued Hearst Corporation for unfair labour practices first took the job to make her mark on the industry she loved.Wang initially hoped her internship would land her a job in the fashion world, telling New York Magazine she saved every penny she could for a year so she could afford to take an unpaid in New York City.
“This was going to be my only ticket to the industry,” Wang told the magazine. “I didn’t have unlimited resources. I was going to make the time worthwhile. I was going to be remembered by people.”
Unfortunately her supervisor didn’t agree and told her she wasn’t quite ready for a paid job in the industry.
When she couldn’t get a job at any other publication, Wang said she began to consider the idea of a lawsuit.
In her lawsuit against Hearst Corporation, Wang asks for wages and damages, claiming her internship was actually an unpaid job, Poynter reported Tuesday.
About 3,000 former Hearst interns joined her suit, which was given class-action status.
“The experience we all worked through was so outrageous and it was the kind of thing that the interns couldn’t tell their personal circles about,” Wang told New York Magazine. “It was very belittling. They couldn’t tell their adviser what they were doing at their internship.”
Wang’s job at Harper’s Bazaar included monitoring accessories lent to the magazine for photo shoots as well as supervising at least eight other interns.
She claims editors at the magazine stressed her position should be considered a real job and had high expectations for the interns.
“You don’t find this in all industries,” her attorney, Rachel Bientold, NY Magazine. “You wouldn’t have an unpaid intern at a Duane Reade store, even if they were learning a lot about retail operations.
Wang is also suing jewelry company Fenton Fallon, where she also held an internship, claiming that while she was classified as a “press intern,” she actually purchased materials and constructed jewelry, the New York Post reported in July.
The U.S. Department of labour mandates that internships be for “the benefit of the intern,” and says in its test for unpaid interns that both the employer and the intern should understand the intern won’t be earning wages.Her case against Hearst, which has said the lawsuit lacks merit, could be decided as soon as 2013.
In the meantime, Wang has completely left the world she once loved, now working in Columbia, Ohio as a part-time fundraiser and social media strategist for a nonprofit.
“I have kind of completely turned my back on fashion in the past year,” Wang told NY Mag. “It’s hard to think how much I loved it because I don’t even go near it these days. For all of these things to go so horribly wrong, it’s just been so hard.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.