A former intern for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Dualstar Entertainment is suing the Olsens, claiming she worked 50-hour weeks under horrible conditions and was offered neither pay nor college credit in return. Shahista Lalani was in the nightmare position for four months in 2012, and says she and her fellow interns did the same work as some full-time employees.
Lalani says her duties for the Olsens’ fashion line, The Row, included photocopying, sewing, cleaning, and running personal errands, and that the work never stopped: “I was talking to [the head technical designer] all day, all night,” she said in the suit, “Other interns have cried. I’d see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff.”
In one particularly egregious example, she claimed she had to go to the hospital for dehydration after attempting to carry “like 50 pounds worth of trench coats” in 100-degree weather and “sweating to death.”
Lalani is seeking to start a class action suit that 40 other unpaid Olsen interns would be eligible to join, alleging they were owed at least minimum wage and overtime for essentially replacing employees that Dualstar would have otherwise had to pay.
The former intern is now a fashion designer whose website bio says, “interning with Zac Posen as well as The Row greatly impacted her knowledge about the local garment district and ethical manufacturing processes as well as mastering care and quality in design.”
Her suit also notes that she rarely interacted with the Olsens directly, and that they weren’t the ones making interns cry and sweat to death. “They’re really nice people,” she said. “They were never mean to anyone. They’re business people.”
Mary-Kate and Ashley are believed to be worth a combined $300 million.