Former Intern Sues Magazine Publisher, Claiming She Was An Unpaid Full-Timer

Although students gain work experience and connections from internships, the professional world tends to get the better end of the deal, exploiting talented interns for free or low-pay labor. Federal law bars companies from treating interns as they would employees, but overworked students don’t often feel as though they’re in much of a position to blow the whistle if their mentors cross the line.

According to The New York Times, a former Harper’s Bazaar intern is blowing that whistle, suing Hearst Corporation for allegedly violating federal and state labor laws by asking her to work full-time with no pay. She and her lawyers want to get others in on the action, seeking class-action status and claiming to represent hundreds of former Hearts magazine interns.

The former intern says she worked between 40 and 55 hours a week from August to December last year. Hearst says it has yet to be served with a lawsuit and declined comment to the Times.

The U.S. Labor Department’s guidelines say internships must be for the educational benefit of the intern rather than a financial boost to the employer, and that they can’t displace regular employees. If the lawsuit is successful, it could scare corners-cutting suits out of taking advantage of just-happy-to-be-there students.

Former Intern Sues Hearst Over Unpaid Work and Hopes to Create a Class Action [The New York Times]