When the accessories dept of 3 editors became desperate for adequate man labor to meet the daily logistics demand, I was tasked to put out a call for more interns on the usual boards, in October. We had 8 interns plus me at the height. Interns were hired if only they could work 3 days per week, though one of the two later-added interns could only work 2 days per week. She was hired nevertheless, because you know, 2/3 is still better than no free labor.
The interns regularly paid for metrocards and cab rides out of their own pocket, and I was both determined to and put in the extra time to process those expenses to make sure they were reimbursed. No editor lifted a finger nor expressed concern for this matter. On my final day at Harper's Bazaar, I racked over $40 in errand transportation costs, and submitted my receipts to Sam Broekema to be reimbursed. He never did, despite my follow-up request. Just a couple of facts for you, given your concern of how my claims hold up."
We never had any doubt that an unpaid internship can be an unfairly tough gig. Some of the points brought up in Buzzfeed documents suggested Diana was doing this out of spite or that her claims are negated by the fact that she did not fully comply with the rules for school credit. But from this first-hand account, it sounds like the problems go a lot deeper than Hearst's legal team is willing to admit. Over-working unpaid interns is unacceptable, but it's sadly standard practice for a lot of companies. But making them pay out of pocket for transportation expenses directly related to the job? We can't imagine any argument that could get around that pesky little detail.
Ms. Wang's cause is an extremely important issue facing young people today, and it's representative of the tenuous economic state of everyone in this nation, regardless of age. We're glad to know that she's pursuing justice for the right reasons, and we sincerely hope that the courts grant Diana a victory (not just monetary but symbolic) in this case that has the potential to change the lives and careers of thousands of current and future interns.
If you'd like to review the documents uncovered by Buzzfeed that originally put Wang's suit into question, click through to the next page.
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