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Former Interns Made Less Than $1/Hour, Sue Condé Nast

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Inside W's accessories closet, where one of the interns worked. Image via <a href="http://vimeo.com/35888635">NMDaily.com</a>
Inside W's accessories closet, where one of the interns worked. Image via NMDaily.com

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The little voices that keep the fashion industry humming are starting to speak up. Yesterday, the proposed bill to protect models younger than 18 with child labor laws passed both houses of New York State legislature. Will interns be next?

Two former Condé Nast interns have filed a lawsuit against the publisher for failing to pay them minimum wage during their internships. Lauren Ballinger, who was at W Magazine in 2009, and Matthew Leib, who did time at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, say in the suit that they were effectively paid less than $1 per hour.

The lawsuit cites United States Labor Department guidelines which say unpaid internships are lawful if they are part of an educational training program, do not replace paid employees, the company does nto gain immediate advantage from the intern's work, and the experience is beneficial to the intern.

Ballinger saved one credit from her studies at the American University of Paris to dedicate toward her internship. When she arrived, she was trained only by interns and worked days that began between 8am and 9am and ended between 8pm and 10pm. W Magazine editors even remarked to her how bad the conditions were, saying that the job was, "reminiscent of Anne Hathaway's job in The Devil Wears Prada, but worse, 'because we don't get any makeover in the end.'"

Ballinger decided to take legal action when the magazine's editors failed to give Ballinger the recommendation she needed to earn course credit.

While Leib worked normal hours—10am til 5:30pm—he performed duties that should have been executed by a full-time, paid employee. His internship work involved reviewing pieces for submission, proofreading, and editing articles. He also helped maintain the online cartoon database, did research in the cartoon archives, and coordinated the work of cartoon artists.
· Condé Nast Faces Suit From Interns Over Wages [NYTimes]
· Child Labor Laws Soon to Apply to Models Under 18 [The Cut]