The Row, the critically acclaimed design label founded by former child actors Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in 2006, is the latest in a string of high-profile fashion companies to be hit with a class-action lawsuit by a former — allegedly unpaid — intern.
In court documents filed in Manhattan's Supreme Court and obtained by The New York Daily News, fashion designer and Parsons School of Design graduate Shahista Lalani claims that she worked 50 hours a week between May 2012 and September 2012 at The Row, inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organizing materials, photocopying, sewing and pattern-cutting — labor for which she, and other interns who did similar work, should have been paid minimum wage plus overtime. The complaint estimates that more than 40 past and present interns will be eligible to join the suit, which was filed against the twins' licensing and manufacturing company, Dualstar Entertainment Group.
Lalani and representatives from The Row did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In an interview with Page Six, Lalani added more color to her experience at The Row, complaining that while working under the head technical designer, she would often receive "e-mails at nighttime for the next day, like 10 p.m. at night"; that she was hospitalized for dehydration from carrying "like 50 pounds worth of trench coats"; and that employees were generally "kind of mean" to interns. "I'd see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff," she said.
Lalani had nothing negative to say about the Olsens themselves, however. "They're really nice people," she told Page Six. "They were never mean to anyone. They're business people."
As we mentioned earlier, The Row is not the only well-established fashion company currently facing a lawsuit from a former intern. Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Kara and Coach are all currently involved in unpaid internship lawsuits. As detailed previously by The Fashion Law, those lawsuits are being led by two firms, Virginia & Ambinder LLP and Leeds Brown Law PC. According to the site's unnamed sources, the two firms have in fact been soliciting ex-interns at these companies to file suits. Expect more to come.