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Interns across the country are standing up for their rights. They’re mad as heck and they’re not going to take it any more! Corporations and organizations everywhere are pretty much getting free work out of interns and offering very little “hands on” learning in return.

Interns have died.

Interns are suing.

Diddy, Rashida Salaam is coming for you.

Rashida Salaam, 26, of Brownsville, Brooklyn filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court accusing Bad Boy Records of violating minimum-wage laws by not paying interns for work performed.

“I know that I was taken advantage of,” Salaam told the NY Post. “ “I basically wanted to take a stand for all interns who work there …You are supposed to get paid for labor that you do.”

Here’s a list of the duties Salaam and other interns were required to do:

  • Get lunch and coffee for paid staffers
  • Answering phones
  • Gift wrapping presents
  • Decorating the firm’s Broadway offices during the holidays

“Past interns told me that they wrapped gifts for Diddy and his kids,” Salaam confided. “… They wrapped gifts for Diddy and decorated his tree at his office. Basically, they are happy to be there. It’s a big company.”

I wish I would wrap someone’s gifts. Unless I’m a gift wrapping intern at Macy’s, what’s the point? I highly doubt Macy’s even has gift-wrapping internships.

“You have the right to make a claim for unpaid wages even if you agreed to be classified as an unpaid intern or trainee,” said Salaam’s lawyer Jeffrey Brown.

“If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the services, then the interns will be treated as employees and are entitled to pay.”

Corporations need to realize that interns are not free labor.  Most of these interns are trying to learn something that can benefit them in the long run and are in line with their degree pursuits. Last time I checked, getting coffee and wrapping gifts were not degrees offered at any university.

Take that, Diddy.  Give those interns some of that Ciroc money.

 

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  • Girl Bye

    She should not have accepted an unpaid internship, if she wanted to get paid. Period. I interned for free many times before getting paid, most of which just gave me busy work. I was able to get something out of the experience because I was creative, and a self-starter. When working on the Hill, I created reports for the member.. just because. I created new databases, just because… A company will hire someone that can push the bottom line, and what a better time to that that then when you don’t have any real responsibilities.

  • MLI

    People get internships to learn about their industry. Making the interns get coffee, wrap gifts, answer phones or whatever is all well and good as long as you are also giving them experience and insight into their industry of choice.

  • Mademoiselle

    The problem is employers who post job reqs that masquerade as internships, but actually turn out to be the work of a full time employee. Those two are in fact very different. I had a similar issue with one prior boss who hired an extra analyst for our team instead of hiring a VP, which we absolutely needed, just to cut costs. It frustrated the analyst enough for him to leave before even completing half of his rotation with our department, and it set not only slowed our department down even further, it put us worse off when he left than when he came. When you need more help, you hire more help with commensurate wages.

    Interns aren’t free labor — you can’t use them to fill in production gaps. That’s called slavery. Internships are arrangements that allow a company to groom a potential industry-candidate in exchange for hands on experience. That arrangement should only happen when an employer has the time and resources to dedicate to that interns growth. Anyone who is advertising an internship as a glorified gopher position is cheating the intern out of time, money, and experience; and anyone who is advertising an internship as an underpaid employee is violating labor laws. The intern shadows, replicates, practices, and observes business practices. The intern does not take ownership, fill in, answer for, or direct business operations.

    All that being said, based on the article, I don’t really see where Ms. Rashida took on full-time employee responsibilities. From what I read, she was being treated like a volunteer. Although, the article, nor her quotes, really seemed to go deep into all that was done over those three months.

    I will say, this article does drive home one of the points I made on that “what I wish I knew about finances back in college” article: NEVER EVER take an unpaid internship, EVER, when there are so many paid internships available in your major, and often paying more than what you would make as an entry level FTE (unless you were slacking all year and didn’t start applying until all the paid positions were filled). Save your volunteer hours for a humanitarian cause; get paid for your career.

  • DEE

    The biggest problem with unpaid internships is you’re not learning anything. You’re not working with professionals, you’re probably getting coffee and running errands and that’s not fair.

  • Ash

    Paid internships are hard to come by. I wish there were more paid positions for students. I was a political science major in undergrad and wanted so badly to do an internship in DC. There was no way I could afford housing, transportation, and food. Nor could my parents. I ended up doing some volunteer internships and working on campaigns locally. So it all worked out.

    It just seems that unpaid internships give an extra leg up to affluent kids.