Page Six reports that a new class-action lawsuit against the Olsen Twins’ company Dualstar Entertainment Group (which they founded when they were 6) alleges wage theft, claiming that interns were working unpaid for up to 50 hours a week. The suit states that Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s company has provided strictly unpaid internships to over 40 young people; the implication is that the positions were misclassified, and should rather have at least provided minimum wage pay. Unpaid internships are no rarity within the workforce, but you’d think a company as huge as the twins’ empire (Mary-Kate and Ashley are reportedly worth $300 million) could afford to offer…something.
The case is being handled by the Manhattan Supreme Court, with former design intern Shahista Lalani as the lead plaintiff; she claims to have been mistreated and made to work do a bounty of menial tasks. (Here, by the way, are the legal requirements for unpaid internships.)
Lalani was working under the head technical designer for the Twins’ fashion label, and said she was doing the jobs of three interns, and would have to deal with emails from her boss all day and night; she says she went to the hospital for dehydration due to the pressures of the (not-technically-a) job; the day that this happened, she was carrying around loads of trench coats in 100 degree weather.
She said of the internships:
You’re like an employee, except you’re not getting paid. They’re kind of mean to you. Other interns have cried. I’d see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff.
However, she did not often interact with the Olsen twins, and said of them, on the rare occasion that they’d be around:
They’re really nice people. They were never mean to anyone. They’re business people.
So if you were sickly enjoying the absurd image of the above-photographed children leading Parsons School of Design grads to sobbing fits as they carried trays of perfectly foam-to-espresso-proportioned coffees around New York for them, that’s not exactly what this sounds like — at least not directly.