Mary-Kate And Ashley Olsen’s Company May Settle Interns’ Lawsuit For US$140K

The company owned by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen may settle a lawsuit by paying up to US$140,000 to a group of interns who claim they did the work of employees without payment.

Under the proposed settlement filed last week in a New York court by attorneys for a former intern, each of the 185 members of the class-action lawsuit would receive US$530 for the work they performed at the twins’ Dualstar Entertainment Group.

The settlement would have to be approved by a judge. The filing says Dualstar doesn’t oppose the settlement.

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Dualstar is the parent company of the twins’ fashion brand, The Row.

The lead plaintiff, Shahista Lalani, filed the suit in September 2015 after working at The Row for five months.

Lalani and other former interns claimed they worked up to 50-hour weeks doing the same work as some full-time employees of the Olsen’s fashion lines, The Row and Elizabeth and James, according to The Fashion Law.

Lalani claims she was hospitalized for dehydration because of the job’s demands.

“It was like 100 degrees outside. I’d just be sweating to death. I probably carried like 50 pounds worth of trench coats to Row factories,” Lalani said, according to Page Six. “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.”

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Her duties included “inputting data into spreadsheets, making tech sheets, running personal errands for paid employees, organizing materials, photocopying, sewing, pattern cutting, among other related duties,” according to court papers.

A representative from Dualstar Entertainment Group released a statement in 2015 to USA Today in response to the lawsuit and vowed to fight back.

“As an initial matter, Dualstar is an organization that is committed to treating all individuals fairly and in accordance with all applicable laws,” Dualstar representative Annett Wolf wrote in a statement. “The allegations in the complaint filed against Dualstar are groundless, and Dualstar will vigorously defend itself against plaintiff’s claims in court, not before the media. Dualstar is confident that once the true facts of this case are revealed, the lawsuit will be dismissed in its entirety.”

The 30-year-old twins founded Dualstar when they were 6 and were starring on the TV sitcom “Full House”.

— With files from The Associated Press

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