ELITE MODEL MANAGEMENT FACES $50 MILLION NATIONWIDE CLASS ACTION FOR USING INTERNS AS FREE LABOR
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Steven L. Wittels email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) (914) 319-9945
Burkett McInturff email@example.com (910) 476-7253 and
Richard Roth firstname.lastname@example.org (212) 542-8882
(February 15, 2013, New York, NY) – With Fashion Week’s wrap-up yesterday, the industry is returning to its day-to-day routine. But one major player – Elite Model Management, the self-proclaimed “world’s most prestigious”
A national class action filed today by Class Action Superlawyer Law Offices of Steven L. Wittels, P.C. and The Roth Law Firm alleges that Elite violates state and federal law wage laws by requiring its interns to do the work of employees – for no pay. The $50 million lawsuit highlights Elite’s job postings for Fashion Week interns on its Facebook page and emails to its interns warning them to get ready for “crunch time” and to bring their “A Games.”
The modeling giant expects its interns to do real work for no money, such as chaperoning models to bookings, updating modeling books, and for the elite among them, even keeping the drawers clean. Elite Interns are expected to work weekends if necessary, and according to the Facebook job posting, “expert knowledge of the MTA system is also a huge plus.”
“If ever a job description meets the definition of a paid employee, this is it,” says Steven L. Wittels, the lead lawyer for the class. “Over the years, Elite has boosted its bottom line on the backs of young unpaid interns, who while anxious to build their resumes, are too afraid to ask for compensation or are unaware of the wage laws’ requirements,”
The wage laws forbid companies like Elite from misclassifying their interns as exempt from wages when the employees in fact do real work – and aren’t merely shadowing higher-ups or are part of some educational program. “Not only is Elite hurting young people who are already struggling to make ends meet, but they’re hurting the economy as well,” adds co-lead lawyer Richard Roth. “Elite is depriving many young people entering the work force of needed entry-level jobs.”
But isn’t it worth it for the interns? “Maybe not,” says Burkett McInturff of the Wittels Law Offices, who says that the notion that performing work for no pay provides a toehold into an industry was put into serious question by a November, 2011 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “That study found that graduates who had paid internships were more likely to receive job offers than those who took unpaid work,” says McInturff. “Plus unpaid internships frustrate efforts to reduce unemployment, diminish tax revenues, and favor the already-fortunate who can afford to work without pay.”
The lawsuit seeks to recover at least $50 million in unpaid wages, overtime pay, liquidated damages, interest and attorneys’ fees for unpaid interns who worked for Elite between February 15, 2007 and the date of a final judgment.
The class is represented in the matter by the Law Offices of Steven L. Wittels, PC., The Roth Law Firm, PLLC, and the Meyerowitz Law Firm, all New York based firms.
About The Law Offices of Steven L. Wittels, P.C. and The Roth Law Firm, PLLC
Steven L. Wittels, recently named a “2012 Super Lawyer” for his Class Action success, is a nationally recognized class-action attorney who concentrates in consumer fraud, civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs to fight consumer fraud, employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, mass torts and other wrongs. Mr. Wittels was lead trial counsel in the largest employment class action ever tried to verdict in New York – which resulted in a $253 million jury award for compensatory and punitive damages. Along with an expertise in trials and class actions, Mr. Wittels also represents select individuals and has developed a particular expertise in the representation of executives in employment disputes.
The Roth Law Firm has obtained and achieved national recognition with its well documented successes. It is a boutique New York City law firm with a significant practice in business and commercial litigation, representing individuals and companies in the financial services, entertainment, sports and real estate industries. Its principal, Richard A. Roth, also a “Superlawyer”
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