Intern suing fashion house McQueen
The McQueen fashion house, founded by the late designer Alexander McQueen, is being sued by a former intern who worked unpaid for four months.
According to the Guardian, Rachel Watson – not her real name but the one her lawyers want used – stated the fashion house broke the law by not paying her the national minimum wage and was claiming up to £6,415 in "lost wages". Watson's internship in 2009-10 included drawing artwork for embroidery, repairing embellished clothing, and dyeing large quantities of fabric.
Watson's lawyer, Wessen Jazrawi from Hausfeld & Co LLP, said 'when interns do "real work under a contract", they should be entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage.'
Watson stated that she accepted the internship because she saw "almost no other way into the fashion industry". In a statement through her lawyers she said: 'I quickly realised I was being exploited. How could I confront my employer at the time when they held all the cards to my future in the industry?' Watson eventually decided to approach the campaign group Intern Aware.
Last year Alexander McQueen's fashion house was forced publicly to apologise about an unpaid internship. This was after University of the Arts London student union president Shelly Asquith brought attention to its advert for a "talented knitwear student" to work five days a week for up to 11 months unwaged.
A spokesperson at Alexander McQueen said: 'We understand this relates to an intern who was with us four years ago. We had no idea until now that she had any concern about the time she spent at Alexander McQueen. We've paid close attention to the debate in this area and we now pay all our interns.'
Chris Hares, campaigns manager at Intern Aware, said: 'Fashion is a competitive industry with high profits, and the idea that one of the most profitable companies in the world could have people working for free is shameful.'
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