Oscar de la Renta is the latest design house to be slapped with an unpaid internship lawsuit. The New York-based house is named in a proposed class action lawsuit by lead plaintiff Monica Ramirez, an intern who worked for the brand between January and April 2009. According to Ramirez’s suit, which was filed in the Supreme Court of New York state last month, she, along with others, was improperly classified as an intern, when, in actuality, she was performing entry-level labor without compensation. These tasks included making jewelry, ordering coffee and food for supervisors, delivering fabric and accessories to vendors and dressing models for fashion shows. She claims Oscar de la Renta violated state labor and wage laws.
According to her complaint, Ramirez alleges that Oscar de la Renta’s “unlawful conduct has been pursuant to a corporate policy or practice of minimizing labor costs by denying plaintiff and the putative class members compensation in violation of the NYLL and its implementing regulations. Defendant’s unlawful conduct … has been intentional, willful, and in bad faith, and has caused significant damages to plaintiff and the putative class.”
In addition to seeking compensation for all hours worked plus interest, attorneys fees and costs, Ramirez is seeking class action certification, thereby allowing other similarly situated individuals to join in the lawsuit against the design house. This case is quite similar to the one that was filed against fellow NYC-based brand Donna Karan in August 2013. In fact, both groups of former intern plaintiffs are being represented by the same counsel, Virginia & Ambinder LLP and Leeds Brown Law PC.
Other unpaid internship lawsuits in the fashion industry include those filed against Vogue’s parent company Conde Nast (which has since settled), Coach, Alexander McQueen, Hearst (the parent company of Harper’s Bazaar), Elite Models and Norma Kamali (both of which have also settled out of court), Brian Lichtenberg, and W Magazine – among others. (Be sure to click on the individual companies for details on the respective suits).
Oscar de la Renta has been making headlines quite a bit recently. This past week, a spokesman for the house confirmed the appointment of Peter Copping as its creative director, an appointment that is especially exciting. The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman writes, Coppings “appointment makes him one of the few designers in the modern fashion industry to have actually been anointed as an heir apparent by a sitting creator … As a result, it will be one of the most closely watched creative moves in recent years.” Other news stems from Oscar, himself, being selected to design Amal Alamuddin’s dress for her wedding to actor George Clooney, which took place this past month in Venice, Italy. More on the pending lawsuit to come …