The latest in intern lawsuits: a former Norma Kamali intern has reportedly settled her lawsuit with the designer, stemming from an unpaid internship last year. According to 24-year old Erica van Rabenswaay’s complaint, she was denied wages during her unpaid internship with fashion designer, Norma Kamali. The parties settled for an undisclosed sum, which came about after van Rabenswaay enlisted the help of Intern Justice, a legal practice specializing in recovering funds for unpaid interns. Kind of like ambulance chasers but for interns, who willingly accept unpaid internships in the fashion industry and then want to sue after they complete the internship.
Interestingly enough, Bronx-based van Rabenswaay, a Penn State graduate, lists her experience with Kamali on her LinkedIn page. So, in essence, isn’t that a quid pro quo? You work for a short amount of time for a designer (for free, in an internship capacity – that you agreed to in advance) and in exchange, you gain experience in the fashion industry and you get to put their name on your resume as a means of gaining future employment. Sounds like quid pro quo to me. As for Van Rabenswaay’s claim that “when I worked for Norma, I gave more than they gave to me,” I’ve never heard of Erica van Rabenswaay and my guess is you haven’t either. In contrast, you’ve heard of Norma Kamali and would much more likely hire someone with a legitimate name in fashion on her resume than nothing at all. I guess van Rabenswaay wants to have her cake and eat it, too. But guess what: in fashion, people don’t eat cake.