Publisher Condé Nast ends unpaid internship "program"


They are moving to “share contenting” where the intern … I mean “share-contenter” … will give Publisher Condé Nast 100% of their content, and in lieu of payment Publisher Condé Nast will charge them for one month of reddit gold.


The ethics of unpaid internships aside, did two people actually accept positions as unpaid interns and then sue because the salary they accepted–$0–is lower than minimum wage? Did they take the jobs for no reason other than to sue? Please tell me there’s more to that story.

where can I get a high rez copy of the certificate graphic ? I need it bad…


I’m sure they took it because they felt like it was the only option available to them, the ‘way it was done’, in order to get further opportunities.

This does not excuse the company, whether or not they accepted it going in, in the same way that “I’m only going to pay you a $1 an hour” doesn’t suddenly become okay for an employer at a factory to offer if somebody accepts that offer… otherwise we have no minimum wage law at all.


Googling “create your own certificate” takes me to as the first hit. I suspect there are others.

  1. If you Google for “sue minimum wage” you’ll find many examples of employees suing their company because their company pays below minimum wage. Do a person have less of a right to because their wage is $0/hour instead of $3/hour? In both cases, the person took the job knowing the wage, and in both cases the person took the job because it was the better alternative to not taking the job.

  2. IANAL, but it is my understanding that to sue you have to have standing (for example, I cannot sue for sexual harassment on behalf of my coworker I see being harassed, because I was not the one wronged), and so in this regard, I wouldn’t even mind it if they took the job just to sue, because otherwise they couldn’t change the system.


There’s a lot more to the story, but you already dismissed it.


I had an unpaid internship in college (with Saveur). Having that on my resume made a huge difference for me, when it came to finding work later, but I was only able to do it for two reasons:

  1. I was working for editors who were flexible enough to let me intern part time (leaving me free to work a summer job as a waitress at the same time)
  2. I took out student loans

In general, though, the unpaid internship thing is a horrible way to treat people and really does reduce access among people who aren’t already connected and wealthy. Being neither, I had to both get very lucky AND take a financial hit I’m still paying off.


I wasn’t trying to be dismissive, even if it sounds that way. I think the debate over whether or not this is O.K.–even if both parties agree to the terms–is a worthwhile one. I just wondered what kind of circumstances led to the situation where they agreed to the internship but then sued later. What changed?

The basic idea behind unpaid internships is that they are of educational value to the intern and of no substantial economic value to the company providing the internship. I’m not as familiar with the specifics of the Conde Nast case, but there was a similar case against Fox Searchlight pictures ruled on earlier this year where the studio lost and had to paid its formerly unpaid interns.

The reasoning was the interns were doing work that, if they had not done it, would have had to be done by a paid employee, meaning the work was of substantial value to the company and the interns did not differ greatly from normal employees except for the no pay thing. Here’s a NYT article on it:

I think that case prompted a lot of other former unpaid interns to take a look at the work they did and if it was deserving of pay or not. And it is making a lot of companies a lot less likely to offer unpaid internships.

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Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering what made unpaid internships otherwise legal–I didn’t know about the “work that otherwise has no substantial value” part of it. Sounds like a loophole that’s rife with the possibility of exploitation.

Hmm if only there was some way to link to more information about this post. Some sort of link to an article that might explain it. Hmmm someone should invent some sort of hyperlinking system.

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For anyone wondering, the Department of Labor outlines 6 criteria for whether an internship can be unpaid or not. Employers need to meet all six:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

And as anyone who has worked at a company with unpaid internships - on either side - will observe, conditions 2, 3, and 4 very rarely hold.

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I’m not familiar with the details of this case, but in others I’ve heard of, they took the job at $0/hour with the assumption that there would be some sort of educational component (IE they would learn something on the job). Then they find out they are doing learn nothing joe jobs and they sue.

Excellent. I went through an unpaid internship while I was still in college, and it met all those criteria, especially #2; it was primarily for the benefit of people like me to see if we actually wanted to do the work in the field that we were majoring in, and in my case, the answer was “no”.

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