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Two Ex-Interns Sue Conde Nast Over Wages

Jun 13, 2013 / Media Coverage

The New York Times—Christine Haughney

Two former interns filed a lawsuit against Condé Nast on Thursday, saying the company failed to pay them minimum wage at their summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker, and asked that it be approved as a class-action suit.

Lauren Ballinger, who worked as an intern at W Magazine in 2009, and Matthew Leib, an intern at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, said in the suit that Condé Nast, which owns the magazines, paid them less than $1 an hour.

According to court papers filed Thursday morning in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Mr. Leib was paid $300 to $500 for each summer he worked. During that time, he was asked to review pieces for submission to the “Shouts and Murmurs” section and proofread and edit articles for the “Talk of the Town” section. Mr. Leib, a cartoonist, also helped maintain the online cartoon database, did research in the cartoon archives and coordinated the work of cartoon artists, the suit claims. He worked three days a week from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
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The case is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by interns for media companies who have sued for lack of payment. Juno Turner, the lawyer representing Ms. Ballinger and Mr. Leib, said that her law firm, Outten & Golden, settled a case against the "Charlie Rose" show last year.
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On Tuesday, a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated federal and New York minimum wage laws by not paying two interns who worked on the film “Black Swan.”
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Ms. Ballinger, a graduate of the American University of Paris, said in a phone interview that she saved one credit before graduating to use toward an internship at W. Ms. Ballinger was paid $12 a day to work in W’s accessories department. She said she worked from 8 or 9 a.m. each morning until 8 to 10 p.m. each night, packing, organizing and delivering accessories to editors. She later worked 10-hour days, three days a week, in W’s fine jewelry department, she said.

For both jobs, she said she was trained only by other interns.

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