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Condé Nast Interns Sue Publisher For Unpaid Wages

thewrap.com—Tim Kenneally

After unpaid interns who had worked at Fox Searchlight earlier this week scored a legal victory, a new lawsuit has been filed, this time against Conde Nast Publications, alleging that the publisher violates the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York labor law.

The class-action suit, filed on behalf of two former Conde Nast interns, contends that interns who are engaged in the operations of the employer or performing productive work benefit the employer and must be paid the minimum wage, even if they receive some benefits in the form of a new skill or improved work habits.

Advance Magazine Publishers, d/b/a Conde Nast Publications, is named as the defendant in the suit.

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According to Outten & Golden LLP -- the same law firm that's representing the former Fox Searchlight interns -- one of the interns, Lauren Ballinger, worked in W Magazine's accessories and fine jewelry departments in 2009. Ballinger's duties included packing and unpacking accessories and jewelry, sorting through and organizing accessories and jewelry, running errands and filling out insurance forms.

A second intern attached to the suit, Matthew Leib, interned at The New Yorker, where he reviewed submissions and passing recommended submissions to his supervisors, responding to readers' emails, proofreading, line editing, and relaying pieces between writers, cartoonists, and editors.

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According to the suit, Ballinger was paid $12 per day regardless of the number of hours worked. Leib, meanwhile, was paid $300 to $500 for two internships in 2009 and 2010, the complaint says. Leib worked three days a week during each internship, working from approximately 10 a.m. to 5:30 in the first internship and 11 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. in the second.

The lawsuit seeks to recover unpaid wages, interest, and attorneys' fees and costs for any interns who worked in the fashion, accessories and fine jewelry departments of Conde Nast's magazine between June 13, 2007 and the date of a final judgment.

The suit states that there are more than 100 individuals in the affected class.

"Our complaint explains that instead of following the law, Conde Nast relies on a steady stream of interns to perform entry-level work that contributes to its magazines' operations and reduces its labor costs," Adam T. Klein, one of the attorneys representing the interns in the suit, said Thursday.

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