From my alumni listserv to the the New York Times, journo types have been buzzing about the one-time Harper’s Bazaar intern who recently launched a lawsuit at Hearst for lost wages.
Like most media internships, the Harper’s Bazaar gig, although unpaid, involved considerable time, energy and hard work–up to 55 hours per week, according to the disgruntled former fashion intern.
I don’t know the specifics of her case, but the lawsuit appears to be a shaky one. Unless she was unaware of the gig’s lack of compensation before she took it, methinks the suit smacks of a bitter underling. One who thought the grunt work would give way to a full-time job, and wound up feeling used and exploited when it didn’t.
Still, the case has unleashed a lively debate among media industry types regarding the ethics of unpaid work. On the one side are those who argue that plum internships pay by way of experience and connections, adding caché to the resumes of industry wannabes that would otherwise be buried in the CV slush pile.
On the other side are those who decry unpaid internships as exploitative, a form of glorified slave labor that preys upon the young and eager.