A former unpaid intern, Shahista Lalani, is leading a class-action lawsuit against the Olsen Twins' company Dualstar arguing that they were misclassified as being exempt from minimum wage laws.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion company is the subject of a class-action lawsuit brought by a number of unpaid interns who claim that they were overworked and treated unfairly, according to court documents obtained by Page Six.
A group of 40 current and former interns is suing the Dualstar Entertainment Group for appropriate compensation, arguing that they were putting in 50-hour weeks and performing exactly the same tasks as paid employees at the company, thus making them wrongly classified as being exempt from minimum wage legislation.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's company Dualstar is being sued by a former unpaid intern
The suit is being led by Shahista Lalani, who worked for the company’s luxury fashion brand The Row for five months between May and September 2012. She claims that she racked up 50 hour weeks, during which time she was made to perform menial tasks such as making coffee and running personal errands for paid employees while at the same time performing identical roles to them, like inputting data to spreadsheets, cleaning, photocopying and sewing.
Lalani also claims that being regularly made to work until 10pm caused her to be hospitalised for dehydration on one occasion. She does, however, exempt Mary-Kate and Ashley themselves from blame, as she didn’t actually directly work for them, but saw them infrequently at meeting and found them to be likeable.
About her experience, Lalani says: "You’re cleaning. You don’t get a set 15-minute break. You just go with their crazy flow. You just [got] caught up in the pressure,” Lalani said, singling out her boss, the head of design, for being "very demanding".
"You’re like an employee, except you’re not getting paid. They’re kind of mean to you. Other interns have cried. I’d see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff.”
The Olsen Twins have not responded to these allegations. Their company simply released a brief statement of denial when asked about the lawsuit: “Dualstar is not aware of this,” said a spokesperson.