Following the big Black Swan unpaid intern win yesterday, former interns at Condé Nast have sued the magazine publisher for back wages. Matthew Leib, a former New Yorker intern, and Lauren Ballinger, who worked at W Magazine, are represented by the same lawyers in both the Black Swan suit against Fox Entertainment and former interns at Hearst's Harpers' Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. The Hearst suit is going less well for the plaintiffs, as a judge has denied them class action status, but is allowing the suit to proceed.
Unlike in those other casee, the plaintiffs did receive some compensation, but at less than $1 per hour, far far less than minimum wage. "This case is about the fundamental principle that if you work, you must be paid. Our clients seek to end the wage theft endemic in the media industry," Juno Turner, the attorney representing the clients, said in a statement.
Ballinger got $12 per day to do a job like Anne Hathaway's in The Devil Wears Prada but worse, she told The New York Times's Christine Haughney. She did the usual fashion magazine intern stuff like unpacking accessories and running errands, but "We don’t get any makeover in the end," she told Haughney. Lieb got $300 to $500 for each of the two summers he worked at The New Yorker where he helped with the "Shouts and Murmurs and "Talk of the Town" sections. Elsewhere at the publication, a blog post once called unpaid internships "the most pernicious example of class privilege."
Like the other unpaid interns, the Condé Nast underpaid workers will seek class action status for their case. Turner told the Wire yesterday that she expects it to be much easier to win these claims following the decision in the Black Swan case.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.