FASHION LAW: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN IN FEUD WITH UNPAID INTERN
Former Alexander McQueen intern is suing the fashion powerhouse for unpaid wages. Rachel Watson – a pseudonym one of her lawyers used – claims she worked for a duration of four months unpaid, and now declares the fashion house pay her back “lost wages” totaling more than $10,700.
From 2009-2010, Watson’s internship included daily duties of drawing artwork for embroidery, repairing embellished clothing, and dyeing large quantities of fabric. Her lawyer says that “when interns do real work under a contract, they should be entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage.” Watson has stated that Alexander McQueen broke the law by not paying her the national minimum wage.
Wanting to segue into the fashion industry, Watson finally accepted the internship because she saw almost no other way into the industry. Watson stated, “I quickly realized that I was being exploited. How could I confront my employer at the time when they held all the cards to my future in the industry?”
Watson, clearly intimidated by the industry and the impact her experience at Alexander McQueen would have on her future in the industry, never spoke up about the missing wages. Now we question: could this potentially lengthy legal battle have been avoided in the first place had Watson spoke up?
A spokesperson at Alexander McQueen said, “We understand this relates to an intern who was with us four years ago. We had no idea until now that she had any concern about the time she spent at Alexander McQueen. We’ve paid close attention to the debate in this area and we now pay all our interns.”
Will this promise ensure that a similar situation won’t happen again in the future? Just last year, Alexander McQueen’s fashion house was forced to publicly apologize about an unpaid internship, after University of the Arts London student union president, Shelly Asquith, pointed out an advertisement requesting a “talented knitwear student to work five days a week for up to 11 months, without a wage.”
The label said the ad was “issued in error and was not in accordance with our HR policy.”
Text reference via The Cut, NY MAG