Saturday 3 December 2016

Intern sues Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's company alleging she worked 50 hours a week without pay

Published 12/08/2015 | 08:29

Mary-Kate Olsen (L) and Ashley Olsen attend the
Mary-Kate Olsen (L) and Ashley Olsen attend the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Designers Mary-Kate Olsen (L) and Ashley Olsen speak onstage at the 2014 CFDA fashion awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Ashley Olsen and Mary Kate Olsen attend the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Variety)

An intern is suing the Olsen Twins' company alleging she worked 50-hour weeks without pay and "running personal errands for employees."

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The 29-year-old twins, who successfully transitioned from child stars to high fashion designers, are respected businesswoman, but their company's intern policy has come under scrutiny with a recent suit.

40 current and previous interns allege "wage theft" as they didn't receive monetary payment or college credit in exchange for their services.

A former design intern at The Row Shahista Lalani is the lead plaintiff in the case, where she says that during her 2012 role with the company, she was "doing the work of three interns" and says she was in constant contact with her boss whether it was an early morning or late at night.

Designers Mary-Kate Olsen (L) and Ashley Olsen speak onstage at the 2014 CFDA fashion awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
Designers Mary-Kate Olsen (L) and Ashley Olsen speak onstage at the 2014 CFDA fashion awards at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)

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According to court documents filed at Manhattan's Supreme Court, she says she spent an average 50 hour week "inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organizing materials, photocopying, sewing, pattern cutting, among other related duties."

Lalani, who never worked directly for Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, claims she was hospitalised with dehydration and exhaustion as a result of the long hours.

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Ashley Olsen and Mary Kate Olsen attend the
Ashley Olsen and Mary Kate Olsen attend the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Variety)

The complainants state that they were wrongly exempt from minimum wage requirements as they were performing the same roles as paid employees.

"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 added.

“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.”

The company responded last night in a statement to E! News, saying: "As an initial matter, Dualstar is an organization that is committed to treating all individuals fairly and in accordance with all applicable laws.

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"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."

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