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New Unpaid Internship Lawsuit Filed in Federal Court Against Famed NY Fashion Designer Norma Kamali

New Unpaid Internship Lawsuit Filed in Federal Court Against Famed NY Fashion Designer Norma Kamali

Fashion World, New York City, Unpaid Intern Lawsuits - May 29, 2013 - 4 Comments - by

May 29, 2013, New York, NY –  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Intern Justice Commences its “Fair Wage Summer 2013”
First Lawsuit Filed Today; Defendant is Famed Fashion Designer Norma Kamali

For more information, contact Maurice Pianko mpianko@gmail.com (973) 460-2887  www.internjustice.com  

Maurice Pianko,  attorney and  founder  of Intern  Justice   and Jesse Strauss of Strauss Law PLLC filed today the first lawsuit of Intern Justice’s “Fair Wage Summer” project.  The lawsuit alleges that famed fashion designer Norma Kamali violated  the  federal  Fair  Labor  Standards  Act  and  New  York  State  labor  laws  by requiring  Erica  van  Rabenswaay,  an  “apprentice,” to  work  full time without  paying wages for three months.  Norma Kamali later paid Ms. van Rabenswaay a salary for one month and terminated her only to seek, days later, another “apprentice” to perform the same tasks without pay. More lawsuits are likely in the next few weeks as part of Intern Justice’s “Fair Wage Summer 2013” project.

“Unpaid internships are exploitive, unethical, and illegal” says Maurice Pianko, the founder of Intern Justice. “Young people think they are getting a toehold in their chosen profession.  In fact, many employers are just looking for free labor. Our wage and hour laws are designed to require a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and that applies to all employees, including interns.”

In the lawsuit filed today, Ms. van Rabenswaay alleges that her “apprenticeship” was purely to the benefit of Ms. Kamali and there was no formal training or mentorship provided.  Rather, Ms. van Rabenswaay performed the same tasks as paid employees, full time, but was compensated with only a MetroCard to commute to and from work. Ms. van Rabenswaay would often work in excess of 10 hours a day and at one point even replaced a paid employee who resigned.  Ms. van Rabenswaay holds a BA in Integrative Arts from Penn State, with a focus in 3d Fabrication Design, Graphic Design, & Photography.

Ms. Rabenswaay’s lawsuit seeks double back wages as well as attorney’s fees and costs. Norma Kamali could have likely avoided the lawsuit by paying Ms. van Rabenswaay $7.25  an hour, or  $290 per  week, based  on a 40  hour  week  under the federal Fair  Labor Standards Act and New York State labor laws.

Intern Justice intends to file additional lawsuits in the coming months to obtain compensation for unpaid interns. If you believe that you have been denied wages under guise of an “internship,” contact  Intern Justice  via email at  internjustice@gmail.com or by completing the Getting Started Form.

The lawsuits are being brought in collaboration with Strauss Law PLLC, a New York City based class action and commercial litigation law firm founded by attorney Jesse Strauss.

 

 

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4 comments

  • [...] Justice, a website that provides legal information and services for unpaid employees. This week, he filed a lawsuit in federal court against New York-based designer Norma Kamali for hiring Erica in 2012 as an “apprentice,” a three-month-long position with no pay and a [...]

  • [...] Justice, a website that provides legal information and services for unpaid employees. This week, he filed a lawsuit in federal court against New York-based designer Norma Kamali for hiring Erica in 2012 as an “apprentice,” a three-month-long position with no pay and a [...]

  • [...] Read more about the trial HERE [...]

  • [...] internships may not be just a problem for the rich anymore.  As the data suggest, outside the art, fashion, and finance industry, the unpaid internships go to the lower income individuals.  So what does [...]

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