Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are being sued by a former intern, Shahista Lalani, who claims she was overworked with no pay while working for the twins’ licensing and manufacturing company, Dualstar Entertainment Group, in 2012.
“The class-action suit, which alleges wage theft, says the 29-year-old celebs failed to pay about 40 past and present interns who have worked for them,” according to the New York Post.
Lalani claims she worked 50 hours a week with no pay, nor did she receive college credit for her time as an intern.
In the suit, Lalani said she reported to the head technical designer for the Olsens’ high fashion label, The Row, for five months. The former intern called her boss “very demanding.”
“I was doing the work of three interns. I was talking to her all day, all night. Emails at nighttime for the next day, like 10 p.m. at night,” notes Lalani. “It was like 100 degrees outside. I’d just be sweating to death. I probably carried like 50 pounds worth of trench coats.”
According to court papers obtained by the Post, Lalani says her other work included “inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organising materials, photocopying, sewing, pattern cutting, among other related duties.”
“When we weren’t doing something, they’d be like, ‘Organise the buttons in the back by colour code.’ You’re cleaning. You don’t get a set 15-minute break. You just go with their crazy flow. You just [got] caught up in the pressure,” added Lalani, who says at one point she was hospitalized for dehydration during her internship.
“You’re like an employee, except you’re not getting paid,” she added. “They’re kind of mean to you. Other interns have cried. I’d see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff.”
Lalani does, however, admit that she never worked directly for the Olsens, but when she saw them occasionally at meetings they were nothing but pleasant towards her.
“They’re really nice people,” said Lalani. “They were never mean to anyone. They’re business people.”
Lalani’s suit hopes to see other interns paid minimum wage plus overtime because she says they are doing the same duties as paid employees without receiving academic credit.
A spokeswoman for the Olsens’ company told The Post, “Dualstar is not aware of this [the lawsuit],” but declined to comment on the company’s intern policy.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen founded Dualstar Entertainment when they were just six-years-old.
“In 2004, on their 18th birthday, the sisters took over as copresidents (they are now co-chief executive officers) of the privately held firm, which has produced movies, TV shows, magazines and video games,” according to Women’s Wear Daily.
Later, the twins’ business efforts also included “clothes, shoes, purses, hats, books, CDs and cassette tapes, fragrances and makeup, magazines, video and board games, dolls, posters, calendars, telephones and CD players.”
“We were always hard workers as kids,” Mary-Kate told WWD in 2013. “It’s just the way we are, the way we were raised. Our work ethic was everything, and that never left us. We like to work hard, and we like to try to do everything 100 per cent. In fact, it’s actually almost impossible for us not to. Sometimes you succeed and sometimes not so much, but it’s learning.”
“I always looked at myself, even as a kid, as a businesswoman,” added Ashley.
Today, Mary-Kate and Ashley also have their own couture fashion label, “The Row,” and a contemporary collection called “Elizabeth & James.”
In June, the Olsens were named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) for their brand The Row.
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