Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have spoken out against their intern lawsuit – well, kind of.
As you may have heard, 40 current and previous interns of the Olsen twins are bringing a class-action lawsuit against the 29-year-old sisters’ fashion empire.
I mean, being an intern isn’t the most glamourous role, nor should you expect it to be. But they’re not supposed to be treated like slaves – especially if they’re not being paid. And that’s sort of how it sounds to be an intern for the Olsen’s company, Dualstar Entertainment Group, the parent company of their fashion label, Elizabeth and James and The Row.
The lawsuit alleges that Dualstar failed to pay interns for menial tasks, and that they were doing similar jobs as their paid co-workers without any academic or vocational credit.
One former design intern – lead plaintiff Shahista Lalani – was even hospitalized for dehydration as a result of the job, which involved carrying around 50 pounds of trench coats in sweltering summer heat.
This morning, a rep for the sisters spoke out in a statement to USA Today:
“As an initial matter, Dualstar is an organization that is committed to treating all individuals fairly and in accordance with all applicable laws,” said Dualstar representative Annett Wolf. “The allegations in the complaint filed against Dualstar are groundless, and Dualstar will vigorously defend itself against plaintiff’s claims in court, not before the media. Dualstar is confident that once the true facts of this case are revealed, the lawsuit will be dismissed in its entirety.”
According to court documents, Lalani said her 50-hour workweek at The Row involved “inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organizing materials, photocopying, sewing, pattern cutting, among other related duties.”
To be fair, that all sounds pretty standard for intern life. But Lalani says she was pretty much run to the ground doing the work of three interns – and all without pay or any sort of personal benefit.
According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, unpaid internships can be offered at for-profit companies if the internship is “for the benefit of the intern” and “similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.”
Lalani also alleges that she was treated horribly when working under The Row’s head technical designer for five months, and was expected to return emails at 10pm at night.
For the record, Lalani also says that the Olsen twins themselves were nice when they came into the office, and “were never mean to anyone.”
Admittedly, it’s difficult to imagine Michelle Tanner ever being mean, right?