NY Intern Hits DKNY With Class-Action Lawsuit

September 3, 2013  |  

Source: LI

Interns across the nation are fighting back against major corporations that they feel they’ve been misused and abused by. The latest to take action has been former unpaid DKNY intern, Valentino Smith, who recently filed a class-action lawsuit against Donna Karen International on behalf of 100 other interns, the New York Post reports.

While it’s common for interns to work for college credit or on-the-job experience, in the newly filed lawsuit, Smith expresses that because he received no real experience that could be applied to his career, he should be compensated for the hours he worked.

“He characterized it as a “Devil Wears Prada” atmosphere,” said Smith’s attorney Lloyd Ambinder.

“He got so much coffee for people he knew what they wanted without having to ask,” Ambinder continued.

The suit goes to on to say that during his 2009 corporate sales internship, he was also assigned menial tasks such as data entry, shipping, inventory, answering phones and organizing closets.

“Using a copy machines isn’t what someone would call an internship. I feel like I was taken advantage of” said Smith, who has since gone on to earn his M.B.A from Brooklyn’s Long Island University.

He adds that he should’ve at least been paid minimum wage for his services. DKNY spokesperson Valerie Gelicame responded to the lawsuit, insisting that the company was within legal guidelines when they assigned tasks to Smith and the other interns.

“DKI believes it has acted properly and legally,” said Gelicame.


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    These interns don’t know the first thing about “hustling”!! Open your eyes & your ears, then maybe you’ll see something other than grunt work. This generation is beyond clueless. I say let them sue & lose that opportunity to learn at the same time. Those companies won’t get hurt losing a few dollars, but the intern will forever be marked as a “LOSER”!!! #reality

  • ANirvana

    after doing 2 unpaid no credit bearing internships, I didn’t know that it was illegal. I was promised to be taught certain skills in product development and design, but instead all I did was roll yards of fabric all day. Then when they wanted me to travel back and forth from the showroom to the main office, they tried to get me to use my own money for transportation. I know better now…

  • Sheila Bourne

    I hope they win their Class Action Suit! I’m glad he put them on blast!

  • Live_in_LDN

    Fashion internships in particular, take advantage of applicants as it is a high demand industry that many want to break into and only those who come from rich backgrounds can afford to work unpaid for on average 3-4 years before they get a paid role. Many industries do take the mick with interns. Compare the fashion in industry with the Chemical Engineering Industry for example, which isn’t as glamorous but offers a lot more paid apprenticeships.

    Fashion is not as glamorous as many envision and his intern duties; coffee collecting, data entry, closet organizing – seems about right. I don’t agree with him suing but I do admit some industries do interns a disservice and just use them as free labor.

  • mikki21

    I feel him on that, and wish I did the same. I did an intern at the Child Protective Agency in my city. I quit after 2 weeks, because all I was doing is copying and stuffing envelopes, while the other chick that came in a week before me was actually shadowing a social worker. When I asked why I wasn’t doing the same work, the reply I got was becuase they didn’t have anyone to put me with…. Okay there was 100 + people. I left out her office, and the receptionist pulled me over, and she said the real reason was because the second receptionist went on maternity leave and I was to fill in for her. I didn’t apply for a receptionist intern. Good bye!!

  • Candacey Doris

    Often internships do require the interns to do such activities. I know i did. But i also learned about the business while i was there. If he wants to sue because he learned nothing of use in moving forward in his career then that is one thing. But suing because he was made to do menial duties is not going to get him anything.

  • Raimi Nicte

    We truly live in an overly litigious society. Unpaid interns have been doing the grunt work for years, menial tasks such as filing and data entry are every level duties that allow the intern a chance to get their feet wet. youth these days seem to feel the world owes you something, it doesn’t, you get out what you put in

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