FASHION LAW: Former Marc Jacobs Intern Brings Heat to the American Fashion House
Fashion interns have been on a roll, but it is not for a job well done but for filing lawsuits against former employers: they were either mistreated, underpaid or a combination of both. Falling in line with other fashion houses such as Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta that have or are experiencing similar situations, Marc Jacobs International undertakes a case of their own brought on by a former disgruntled intern.
The plaintiff, Linney Warren, claims that during her three month (April-June 2009) internship as a production intern for Marc Jacobs International, she was treated unfairly. She further argues that the internship program in place at her former employer violates New York state law and wrongly classifies entry-level employees as “interns” to avoid payment in an effort to minimize costs.
During her short time at the company Warren states she worked 70-hour work weeks and was asked to complete tasks such as transporting raw materials and organizing fabrics, among others. One familiar with the industry might say that tasks such as this are required of interns as a means of proving yourself or “climbing up the fashion ladder.”
Warren, however, does not think this and is asking the court to certify a class action lawsuit so that other mistreated interns who worked for Marc Jacobs may join. Post internship at Marc Jacobs, Warren went on to work as a freelance designer for J. Crew and shortly afterwards joined as an associate designer for Banana Republic. One could argue that Warren’s time at Marc Jacobs afforded her the opportunity to take on these jobs and without her prior experience, she would not have otherwise qualified. While this may be true, it is also worth mentioning that if Warren’s work was more employee related, rather than intern, there is a fair case for asking for proper compensation.
Image: Helena Bonham Carter for Marc Jacobs F/W ’11-’12 by Juergen Teller