One Former Harper's Bazaar Intern Is Standing Up For Unpaid Interns Everywhere

Fashion Night Out

Photo: Bruno Cordioli via Flickr

The recession has completely changed the workplace. People started taking jobs they wouldn’t have considered before — including unpaid internships.In 2011, more than 1 million Americans worked in internships, roughly half of which were unpaid, according to an NPR report. 

This week, a former unpaid Harper’s Bazaar intern fought back, filing a lawsuit against Harper’s owner, the Hearst Corporation, for unpaid wages, according to Jonathan Allen at Reuters. From the report:

Xuedan Wang, 28, was an intern at the magazine’s accessories department from August to December last year, where she typically worked at least 40 hours a week, and sometimes as much as 55 hours, without pay, according to her lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

“Unpaid interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them for the many hours they work,” the lawsuit says. 

Wang’s lawsuit mirrors a class-action suit filed late last year against Fox Searchlight Pictures by former unpaid interns, citing a decades-old Supreme Court decision that only work done for training purposes can go unpaid.

According to U.S. Department of labour, companies can only offer unpaid internships if the intern does not replace workers and the company does not receive “immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.”

When companies hire older, more experienced workers for unpaid internships, it gets harder to claim that they aren’t attaining serious financial benefits from the hires. 

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