Fashion Week Interns Settle for $450,000

A New York court approved a $450,000 settlement between 55 interns and Elite Model Management Corp. for alleged state and federal wage and hour law violations. Davenport v. Elite Model Mgmt. Corp. (S.D.N.Y. 2014).

The interns alleged that Elite misclassified them as unpaid interns when they should have been paid employees receiving minimum wage and overtime. The interns performed duties typically performed by paid employees including escorting models to and from assignments, organizing model portfolios, and completing other tasks leading up to and during New York fashion weeks.

This case reminds employers hiring unpaid interns for the summer to take a close look to see if the interns qualify. Click here to access a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor on the test for unpaid interns. A number of high-profile class-action suits involving interns have drawn attention to this issue. Remember, the assumption is that a worker is a nonexempt employee unless the company proves otherwise. Contact MSEC with your questions.