The sisters' fashion house, The Row, and its parent company Dualstar were sued in 2015 in a class action suit by 185 unpaid interns over working conditions.
A long-standing lawsuit between Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s fashion house The Row and a group of 185 former unpaid interns has been settled to tune of $140,000, according to a new report by the New York Daily News’ Page Six column.
The 30 year old twins and former ‘Full House’ stars run a business empire worth an estimated $300 million. However, former design intern Shahista Lalani filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of a group of colleagues, saying that she was once overworked by their fashion house to the point of dehydration and hospitalisation.
“It was like 100 degrees outside. I’d just be sweating to death,” Lalani said about her experience working for The Row when she filed the suit back in the summer of 2015. “I probably carried like 50 pounds worth of trench coats.”
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in 2008
Other interns similarly claimed that they were worked, unpaid, to the point of exhaustion, with frequent 10-hour days doing menial tasks like running errands, photocopying, data input and coffee runs.
In filings made in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday (March 9th), their settlement provisionally agrees to pay what would be only $530 for each intern, after lawyers’ fees are taken into account. The settlement is awaiting approval by a judge at the time of writing.
The lawsuit claimed that the interns should have been paid minimum wage plus overtime, as they were performing the same tasks as full-time paid colleagues but weren’t receiving any academic or vocational credit.
“You’re like an employee, except you’re not getting paid,” Lalani recalled, saying that she regularly had to stay until gone 10pm fielding e-mails from people higher up in the company. “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 deal reportedly allows the twins’ holding company Dualstar LLP, who are listed as the defendants in the case, to deny any wrongdoing. The company has not made any official comment yet.
For the plaintiff interns, the deal was the result of “protracted, arm’s-length negotiations between the parties and their experienced counsel,” attorney LaDonna Lusher is quoted as saying in the court papers.
“The parties have reached a proposed settlement which plaintiffs believe represents a significant recovery given the potential damages and substantial risks if the case proceeds to trial.”