After Condé Nast decided to eliminate its internship program in response to lawsuits from former interns, L2 Founder Scott Galloway discussed the perils and morality of the practice. He said almost all unpaid internships in editorial and luxury brands are illegal, as the U.S. Labor Department’s definition of an intern is someone who adds no immediate value to the company. That excludes anybody who stuffs gift bags, files, or creates press lists, often the bulk of what interns at prestige brands and publications do. Brands that continue to hire unpaid interns are taking a legal risk.
Hiring unpaid interns is just plain wrong, Galloway said. Companies that make the most money and have the strongest brands are often the ones hiring the most unpaid interns. He criticized Condé Nast’s decision to eliminate all internships in response to the lawsuits; with substantial cash flow, it can afford to pay interns a minimum wage.
Finally, Galloway said he practices what he preaches. L2 Think Tank pays all of its interns.
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