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Aug
2015
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Olsen Twins’ Entertainment Co. Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Intern Abuse

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Hard work for no pay? You got it, dude!  

A lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court alleges that the Olsen twins’ company, Dualstar Entertainment, overworked and failed to pay or provide college credit to interns.  The lawsuit seeks class action status for an estimated 40 workers and argues that the workers were misclassified as being exempt from the minimum wage.  

The lead plaintiff in the suit, Shahista Lalani, claims that she was forced to work 50-hour weeks while performing grueling tasks and being treated poorly:

The Parsons School of Design grad worked in Manhattan under the head technical designer for the Olsens’ fashion label, The Row, for five months.

“She was very demanding,” Lalani recalled. “I was doing the work of three interns. I was talking to her all day, all night. E-mails at nighttime for the next day, like 10 p.m. at night.”

Lalani claims she was hospitalized for dehydration because of the job’s demands.

“It was like 100 degrees outside. I’d just be sweating to death. I probably carried like 50 pounds worth of trench coats,” to Row factories, she said.

The Canadian native put in 50-hour weeks “inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organizing materials, photocopying, sewing, pattern cutting, among other related duties,” according to court papers.

Lalani explained the pace at which the interns were forced to work, but did note that the Olsen Twins themselves were not part of the abuse:

“When we weren’t doing something, they’d be like, ‘Organize the buttons in the back by color code.’ You’re cleaning. You don’t get a set 15-minute break. You just go with their crazy flow. You just [got] caught up in the pressure,” Lalani claims.

“You’re like an employee, except you’re not getting paid. They’re kind of mean to you. Other interns have cried. I’d see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff.”

Lalani never worked directly for the Olsens, but said she saw them occasionally at meetings and liked them.

“They’re really nice people,” she said. “They were never mean to anyone. They’re business people.”

Dualstar Entertainment was founded when Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were just 6 years old.  Now 29, the twins are worth roughly $300 million.

Dualstar is the latest in a series of companies to be sued for unpaid internships in the media world.  Last week, Sirius XM settled with 1,800 interns for $1.3 million.  In June, Warner Music Group settled with its interns for $4.2 million. The Warner deal came after similar settlements at Comcast, NBCUniversal, Condé Nast, and Viacom.

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