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Unpaid Interns Have Rights Under Wage Laws and Can Pursue Class Action Against Hearst


The matter of making sure employees are properly classified and paid extends to interns. Xuedan Wang, who held an internship at Hearst Corp, is filing a lawsuit for two class actions against the magazine company. The first is an Intern Class comprised of unpaid and underpaid interns. The second is a Deductions Class comprised of interns who received college credit for their internships. The allegation is that students’ payments to their colleges for that credit amounted to an unlawful deduction from their wages.

Wang is basing these allegations on one of the guidelines used by the U.S. Department of Labor for determining whether an intern is considered an employee who must be paid at least minimum wage and overtime under the FLSA, which says “If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will be viewed as employees and entitled compensation.”

The classes will include everyone who worked as an unpaid or underpaid intern at Hearst Magazines between February 1, 2009 and the date of the final judgment in this matter.

Wang alleges that she worked up to 55 hours per week, without pay, as an intern for the magazine last year. She also alleges that this is typical of interns and that it is a result of a company-wide policy or practice.

The judge granted certification of the class on the condition that Wang can provide sufficient evidence to support the allegation that her case is typical of interns working for Hearst Magazine. Included in the judge’s decision was consent for Stephanie Skorka to be included as a Named Plaintiff.

The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases included overtime, meal breaks, vacation pay, and tips. Our offices are conveniently located in Oak Brook and Chicago, Illinois. If you have a wage and hour dispute, contact a Wheaton attorney today at 312-869-4095 or fill out our online form.