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Olsen Twins Face Class Action Lawsuit from Angry Interns

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 12, 2015 11:59 AM

We cannot stress this enough: interns are not free labor. You can't use interns like employees and then not pay them or not provide any educational experience.

This is what the Olsen twins seem to have done with their interns, leading to litigation from one intern that has possibly ballooned into a 40-intern class action lawsuit.

Full House of Horrors

Judging from Shahista Lalani's complaint, the "internship" she had with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's Dualstar Entertainment has all the indications of your classic intern lawsuit:

  • Lack of Pay? Check.
  • Performance of Standard Employee Duties? Lalani says she entered data into spreadsheets, made photocopies, ran errands for paid employees, cleaned, cut patterns, and sewed.
  • Lack of Educational Experience? Lalani claims she had to be hospitalized with dehydration: "It was like 100 degrees outside. I'd just be sweating to death. I probably carried like 50 pounds worth of trench coats"

The suit also alleges the work was continuous. Lalani says she worked 50-hour weeks, "was talking to [the head technical designer] all day, all night," and "was doing the work of three interns."

Taking the Twins to School

Lalani is filing her claim as a class action lawsuit, and seeking to include some 40 other past and present unpaid interns whom she saw "crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff."

Dualstar has denied the allegations:

"As an initial matter, Dualstar is an organization that is committed to treating all individuals fairly and in accordance with all applicable laws. 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."

If Lalani's accusations are true, however, the Olsens and Dualstar would just be the latest in a long line of employers not learning the lessons of intern lawsuits past.

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