Following recent New York State and City legislation protecting unpaid interns from discrimination and harassment, intern wage and hour issues and lawsuits continue to rise. Most recently, unpaid interns hit Oscar de la Renta with a proposed class action in New York state court, claiming the fashion label wrongly classified them as exempt from receiving minimum wage payments.
The complaint asserts that Oscar de la Renta misclassified the interns and failed to compensate them for all hours worked from August 2008 to present, during which interns made necklaces that retailed for up to $400, ordered coffee and food for direct supervisors, and delivered fabric and accessories to vendors and dressing models for fashion shows.
But the fashion industry isn’t the only industry under the wrath of unpaid interns. On September 4, 2014, a former intern for The Late Show with David Letterman filed suit, claiming she was illegally classified as exempt from wage laws and not compensated for the time she worked on the show. While the intern worked more than 40 hours weeks during her time on the show, she was not paid minimum wage nor paid for overtime.
The two suits are the latest in a series of class actions against media, entertainment, and fashion companies accused of misclassifying employees as interns to avoid having to compensate them for their work. In August, a New York federal judge granted class certification to current and former Gawker Media LLC interns claiming the company violated federal and state minimum wage laws by not fairly compensating them for their work writing, researching and editing blog posts and other content. Coach Inc., Def Jam/Universal Music Group, Inc., and Sirius XM Radio Inc. have all been hit with class actions in the last few months.