Conde Nast Just Learned How Much Interns Are Worth: $5.8 Million

Condé Nast will close Teen Vogue's print edition, in addition to another round of company-wide layoffs.
Condé Nast

conde nast photo

It’s been said that the internship of today is the job interview of tomorrow.

Very true; however, internships are often the misunderstood placement in any firm these days. Many are post-grad folk looking for exposure, looking for an opportunity to impress, and…well, let’s be honest, they are looking for a check.

They have been living on Ramen noodles and leftovers, because internships are high-demand, high-stress, high-drama positions that could leave you working a full-time agency job. However, when they don’t end up that way, it feels like slave labor. Namely if you weren’t paid.

Conde Nast Publications knows that feeling because 7,500 former indentured servants sued the powerhouse for $5.8 millionAnd they won. 

According to Bloomberg BNA:

Under the proposal submitted to the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York, the FLSA collective action class would consist of all individuals who had internships at Conde Nast between June 13, 2010, and the date the court preliminarily approves the settlement. The New York state law class would include individuals who were interns between June 13, 2007, and the court’s preliminary approval date.

payinternsThe two interns that created this cavalcade of revenge are Lauren Ballinger and Matthew Leib. They accused “Conde Nasty” of violating labor laws because they — and 7,498 others just like them — were paid below minimum wage. And this was in NYC, where a hamburger can cost you $20!

According to this report by Reuters, Ballinger worked for approximately $1 per hour organizing accessories in the fashion closet at W Magazine. Leib, on the other hand, pocketed a little more — $300 for a summer internship at the New Yorker:

Former interns dating back as far as June 2007 are expected to receive payments ranging from $700 to $1,900, according to the settlement.

Condé Nast Chief Executive Officer Chuck Townsend, in an internal email to staff about the settlement, said he still believed the company’s magazine internships “were among the best in the media business.”

“Settling the lawsuit is the right business decision for Condé Nast, as it allows us to focus our time and resources on developing meaningful, new opportunities to support future up-and-coming talent,” he said in the email.

Was this fair? Did they know what they were getting into before they agreed to work? Should PR people even care? Have your intern in the office read this and get back to us.