Former Harper’s Bazaar Intern Sues for Unpaid Wages, Linkedin Profile Reveals Holes in Her Story

Former Harper’s Bazaar intern Xuedan Wang is suing Hearst Publishing for unpaid wages. Umm, okay. Xuedan worked approximately 40 to 55 hours per week interning at Harper’s Bazaar from December 2010 to December 2012 according to reports.

Here’s what Xuedan’s attorney’s had to say about the basis of her lawsuit:

“Unpaid interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them for the many hours they work,” said Adam Klein, one of the lawyers for Ms. Wang. “The practice of classifying employees as ‘interns’ to avoid paying wages runs afoul of federal and state wage and hour laws.”

Wow. Most people in the magazine business are familiar with interning, juggling 1 or 2 unpaid or paid internships while working towards our career goal. Why, you wonder, would we enlist to do grunt work, chores, errands and even the jobs of paid, full-time employees without pay? We do it to get one foot in the publishing industry door, make priceless connections and learn all we can about our craft.

The majority of internships require one to be able to obtain school credit and in return, they are able to gain an educational and hands-on experience. It’s extremely rare that a company will pay an intern. Harper’s Bazaar is no exception. They require candidates to be eligible to receive school credit in order to become an intern.

Xuedan’s lawyers have told the media that she was in fact NOT in school during the time of her internship. That claim is not adding up with Xuedan’s Linkedin page, which lists her as being a student of Parsons School of Design in 2011. It also reveals her internship was from August 2011 to December 2011, instead of December 2010 to December 2011 as reports claim. How then, if her internship was for college credit and she was still in college during it, can she sue for unpaid wages?

Check out her Linkedin Profile:

This lawsuit may certainly get in the way of her career goals which she had listed on her online portfolio, which has since been taken down:

“My long-term professional ambition is to become the creative director of Harper’s Bazaar. My rabid consumption of fashion magazines began at age twelve, and they were the tools of my fashion education…. Between now and reaching the pinnacle, I would like to toil through the chiffon trenches of any of the amazing fashion journals that I have loyally read over the years.”

I bet she never imagined she would sue the very company she once yearned to work for. In my experience, every internship, whether bad or good, has helped me grow as a professional and as a person. I learned early that you have to pay your dues in order to excel in this business, and you will get out of an internship exactly what you put into it. I’ve held down three internships myself since I was seventeen and I can say that even on my worst days, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The contacts, experience and lessons from my days as an intern have paid off immeasurably.

I hate to say it but this lawsuit may damage her future career in the fashion world. What do you think about this lawsuit, Glamazons? Do you have an intern horror story you’d like to share? Would you ever sue a company you interned for?

Love & Fashion,

Glamazon Kamille

Source: New York Times/Fashionista

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  • Mandy

    Yeah, her career is toast, especially with such a distinctive name that will appear in the Google results in connection with an employment lawsuit for decades.

    The internship brought her to New York into the Harper's Bazaar offices. Even if she was scrubbing floors the whole time, that is invaluable. Being there she could take it upon herself to meet people, make impressions, and see how things work, even if only by observation. Or on the other hand, she might discover that it's not really what she expected, and then have the opportunity to adjust her goals, itself an invaluable experience.

    The idea that internships should be some sort of formalized, structured educational training and mentoring experience is unrealistic. Businesses would just take a pass on internships if they were that much of a hassle to manage. The laws that define what companies have to do with respect to interns should be changed to reflect reality.

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