About 3,000 former Hearst interns eligible to join class action lawsuit

New York | Poynter
Diana Wang's lawsuit against Hearst has become a class-action lawsuit, and "may be decided as soon as early 2013," Kayleen Schaefer reports. Wang served as an unpaid intern for Harper’s Bazaar, which Hearst owns. Her lawsuit asks for wages and damages for what she contends was really an unpaid job, and about 3,000 former Hearst interns are eligible to join; three others have already joined Wang.

Wang Googled "intern lawsuit," Schaefer reports, and contacted Outten & Golden, the firm handling a lawsuit by two interns who worked on "Black Swan." Eriq Gardner reported last month those lawyers were seeking to make that suit a class-action one as well.

Wang reportedly also sued jewelry company Fenton Fallon after an internship there.

Outten & Golden attorney Rachel Bien is married to a friend of mine (I found out she was involved in the suit through this article); Schaefer quotes her about the educational opportunities supposedly offered to people who work for free:

“You wouldn’t have an unpaid intern at a Duane Reade store, even if they were learning a lot about retail operations. But you have these pockets, in areas like media and film, where that’s the way the industry has operated for a really long time.”

Fox Entertainment Group now pays interns $8 an hour, Gardner reported last month. Hearst tells Schaefer its internships, which are similar to those at many publications, are legal:

Hearst maintains that the lawsuit is "without merit." In a statement to The Cut, Hearst vice-resident of corporate communications Paul Luthringer said the company's internship programs "are soundly within the law and offer young people an up-close view of the magazine business."

To join Wang's lawsuit, the remaining 2,996 or so eligible former interns "will have to submit a one-page consent form, which we will be mailing to them and posting online," Bien tells me in an email.

Correction: Based on information in the New York magazine story, this post originally stated that 3,000 former interns had joined Wang's class action lawsuit. Subsequent reporting revealed that only three others had joined, according to a lawyer involved in the case. The others are eligible to join.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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