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Interns Hit Conde Nast with Class Action Lawsuit

americanlawyer.com—Julie Triedman

Plaintiffs lawyers at Outten & Golden didn't take long to re-load after hitting the bullseye this week in what previously looked like a long-shot class action. Just two days after a judge in New York certified a first-ever class of unpaid interns at Fox Searchlight Pictures and other Fox subsidiaries, the lawyers have filed a new proposed class action for a group of interns at Condé Nast.

The firm lodged the wage and hours case Thursday in U.S. district court in Manhattan on behalf of two former interns who worked at W Magazine and The New Yorker. The complaint asserts that Condé Nast Publications, the parent company of Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc., violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York labor laws when it failed to pay the interns proper wages for their work.

Both of the named plaintiffs, Lauren Ballinger and Matthew Lieb, earned less than a dollar an hour for their work in 2009 and 2010, according to the complaint. ...

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"Our clients and other interns contend that they were as integral to Condé Nast's business as other employees, but with one major difference: the interns didn't even make minimum wage," wrote Outten & Golden's Rachel Bien, who is spearheading the new lawsuit with partner Adam Klein.

In making its case, the firm is almost certain to rely heavily on Judge William Pauley III's June 11 opinion in the Fox class action. In that case, Pauley found that Fox had violated guidelines established in 2010 by the Department of Labor, reducing payroll costs without giving its interns any real training that they couldn't have gained as entry level employees.

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