British luxury brand, Alexander McQueen, has been slapped with an unpaid wages lawsuit by a former intern who claims that she worked for four months without being compensated. The plaintiff, Rachel Watson (which is not actually her real name but the one she is going by in the complaint) is seeking upwards of $10,000 in “lost wages.” In addition, Watson’s complaint alleges that her internship, which lasted from late 2009 into 2010 and included drawing artwork for embroidery, repairing embellished clothing, and dyeing large quantities of fabric, is a violation of national labor laws, as she was not paid even minimum wage.
A spokesperson at Alexander McQueen has commented on the pending lawsuit, saying: “We understand this relates to an intern who was with us four years ago. We had no idea until now that she had any concern about the time she spent at Alexander McQueen. We’ve paid close attention to the debate in this area and we now pay all our interns.”
This lawsuit follows controversy that erupted last year when the design house, which is owned by luxury conglomerate Kering, posted a listing in search of a fairly long-term unpaid intern. According to Huff Post UK, one of Alexander McQueen’s studio managers in London sent an email to various fashion and design schools saying they were in “urgent” need of a “talented knitwear student” after their current intern had suddenly left. The internship, which is set to last from 6 to 9 months, and consist of nine and a half hour days, five days a week, is largely unpaid. This prompted Shelly Asquith, the student union president of the University of the Arts London, to write a strongly-worded letter to the late designer’s head office accusing the label of “using and abusing” fashion students.