Interns Start Class Action for Unpaid Wages

Two former interns have initiated a federal class-action lawsuit against Conde Nast publications, alleging that the company paid them one dollar per hour or less for their time spent toiling.

Interns are supposed to be paid minimum wage or should be given college credit in lieu of pay and have access to an educational dimension of the internship. Instead, these interns say that they did the work of paid staffers in reviewing submissions, proofreading, editing, and other duties, but were not paid appropriately for that work.

As we have discussed in the past, wage theft can happen in many ways that the average Texas reader would find surprising. In this instance, many people may feel that since they have been given the opportunity to intern at a prestigious publication that they should be happy to be there and not ask questions about compensation. However, all employers including those with prestigious reputations must pay their workers fairly and according to federal and state labor laws. To do otherwise would be to take advantage of free labor from college students and recent graduates, providing increased profits for a multinational company while putting a major financial burden on young people trying to develop their careers.

This is precisely what the two interns representing the class have argued - that the publication is using interns to reduce labor costs. A Labor Department fact sheet further explains, noting that even where interns benefit from the training they are still entitled to minimum wage because the employer benefits financially from their work.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Interns Whack Conde Nast With Class Action," Dan McCue, June 17, 2013.