Did Bank of America's Long Hours Kill a Summer Intern?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Bank of America has confirmed that the "highly diligent intern" Moritz Erhardt passed away just before completing his summer program in London after allegedly working 72 hours straight. Reports have suggested that the notoriously rigorous program, which Erhard t's friends claimed required eight all-nighters in two weeks, exhausted him to death. Those theories, however, are based on the reports of his peers and fellow interns, who have confirmed to papers and on Wall Street Oasis that BofA interns, indeed, work very hard. One anonymous investment banker told The Independent interns can regularly clock up to 100 or even 110 hours a week, including 14-hour days. That isn't really enough to prove that the job killed him. And, as of now, the official cause of death is unknown and the Metropolitan Police is treating the death as "non-suspicious," a police spokesperson told Bloomberg News

Reports say that he collapsed in the shower and that he had epilepsy, but it's unclear if the condition had anything to do with his death. The Week writes, "it was claimed yesterday that Erhardt may have suffered a fit or seizure," which like much of the coverage, does not cite any sources for the claim. Even if he had a seizure it would be difficult to peg it on the working conditions. "The immediate factors that provoke a given seizure are complex, and seizures are rarely predictable. Seizures may be triggered or irritated by a variety of mechanisms," warns the Epilepsy Foundation

Recommended Reading

However, some studies have found that "emotional stressors such as worry, anxiety and anger may cause seizures, especially if combined with fatigue or chronic sleep loss," the Foundation continues. Four studies have cited sleep deprivation as the second-most common reported seizure precipitant. That certainly sounds like the conditions described by Erhardt's BofA peers.

Bank of American has cautioned against speculation. "All the rumors and comments are just that, we will have to wait and see what the post-mortem examination says," a spokesman said. Though, one anonymous BofA banker suggested no one forced Erhardt to work so hard as to put his health in jeopardy. "People are fully aware that banking is hard work and the company constantly reminds you to manage upwards in order to not overheat," he told The Independent. "This is the first time I've heard of something like this happening and banking is a very close culture," further distancing the company culture from the cause of death. 

Inset photo via Seelio

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.