And Another One: Conde Nast Settles Intern Pay Lawsuit

By William Peacock, Esq. on November 14, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This meant the end of Conde Nast's internship programs. As part of a massive wave of unpaid/underpaid intern lawsuits, you have to wonder if this will mean more large corporations will wise up and stop offering illegal internships.

Conde Nast just squashed the beef in a class action brought by former interns, agreeing to fork over $5.8 million to put the suit behind them. The class includes roughly 7,500 ex-interns who worked at Vogue, Vanity Fair, and other similar publications, reports Capital New York.

The settlement is a bit of a surprise: We didn't see a whole lot of legal maneuvering before the rumors of a settlement swirled earlier this year, and similarly exploited (ahem, allegedly exploited) interns from Hearst Magazines had their class decertified. Conde Nast must have decided that $5.8 million was a small price to pay to avoid the litigation and public relations nightmare.

Who Needs Pay Anyway?

It all began with two interns: Matthew Leib (interning at The New Yorker) and Lauren Ballinger (at W). Leib was allegedly paid only $300 to $500 for the entire summer. Ballinger was given $12 per day for longer than 12-hour shifts.

We're reiterate what we said last time: Based on the Hearst ruling, such a varied arrangement of sucktacular experiences nearly guarantees that there would have been a Dukes commonality issue. Then again, the cost of litigating it out, then possibly litigating case-by-case, might have negated any cost savings over settling outright.

Final cost of these interns? About $773.33 each, assuming 7,500 interns come forward to claim their piece of the pie. It's still cheaper than minimum wage!

GCs: Learn From Them

There are really two big takeaways from the magazine intern lawsuits. First, from the Hearst decision, it's best not to streamline your internship policies across magazines or even departments -- no common injuries/commonality means you can escape costly class actions.

Or, if you're not the type to exploit labor illegally and immorally, get your internship policies in line with the Department of Labor's guidelines.

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