The end of unpaid internships? Several companies eliminate progr - KMSP-TV

The end of unpaid internships? Several companies eliminate programs

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Are the days of the unpaid internships coming to an end? This week, the company behind Vogue, Vanity Fair, and several other quintessential magazines, ended their internship programs after a lawsuit filed by two former interns.

There's no dispute interns are more aware of their rights than two decades ago. No company is immune to these lawsuits. Most of the networks have been named in several of these cases and the attorney representing the interns says it all centers around companies expecting people to work for free.

After two interns filed a lawsuit against The New Yorker and W Magazines owned by Conde Nast, the company abruptly ended its internship program on Wednesday.

The move sent shockwaves across college campuses, including Columbia College Chicago where Skyler Dunn-Luben is an art design major.

"I believe it is an important opportunity for those who are interested to be involved with the professional world that they'll someday shape," said Dunn-Luben.

Attorney Justin Swartz, who represents the interns who sued Conde Nast compares the magazine publishing company's move to playground politics.

In a phone interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis, Swartz said, "If they can't make their own rules, they're going to take their ball and go home. Cancelling the internship program because they might have to pay the interns is a very childish problem."

Employment expert John Challenger is unrelated to the case but he says the heart of the issue is the interns work load.

"It does seem like the days of unpaid internships are disappearing because of what people come to work as an intern are doing real work, the company wants them to do real work to see how they fit in," said Challenger.

Tim Long is the Director of Columbia College Chicago's Portfolio Center.

"Well, nothing changes in particular except the market place is a bit slimmer," said Long who helps students at Columbia College get internships and jobs.

Long says the Conde Nast debacle is not a sign of what's to come.

"It looks a little dim and this point and time, a little grim for student interns but I don't think it's going to continue as a trend, I think it's a bubble," said Long.

Two of cases against media companies have made their way to federal court. The Conde Nast case is in the early stages. The attorney says at some point in the near future a judge will determine if this should be a class action lawsuit. Conde Nast did not respond to several inquiries for comment.

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