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Unpaid Intern Suing Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment: “I Was Taken Advantage Of!”

Submitted by on August 23, 2013 – 9:33 amNo Comment

Sean “Diddy” Combs might have to start getting his own coffee…

A former unpaid intern has filed a class-action lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court against Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment. Rashida Salaam, 26, worked without pay for the music label from January 2012 to May 2012 and claims she is owed back pay.

“I’m not suing for any type of animosity,” Salaam told The Daily News. “I have no animosity against Bad Boy. But I was taken advantage of as far as wages go. I was naive.”
During her six-month internship, Salaam says she was over-worked by the staff and forced to answer telephones, get lunch and coffee for paid employees, make deliveries, gift-wrap and decorate the office during holidays, book trips for Diddy, and prepare expense reports.

Salaam’s lawsuit comes just months after Manhattan’s Federal District Court ruled in favor of two former interns who worked on the set of the Oscar-winning film Black Swan, which starred Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. According to The Fair Labor Standards Act laid forth by the U.S. Department of Labor, six criteria must be met in under for an intern to be legally unpaid:

  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;
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

Jeffrey Brown of Leeds Brown Law, the firm representing Salaam, believes Salaam has a case. “The primary recipient of the benefits should be the intern, not the company,” he said. “You have the right to make a claim for unpaid wages even if you agreed to be classified as an unpaid intern or trainee.”

Currently unemployed, Salaam promises that her lawsuit is about justice and not “all about the Benjamins.” “Money doesn’t mean anything to me,” said Salaam. “I’m taking this risk for all the interns out there.”

If Salaam wins, expect dozens of similar lawsuits to follow. Do you think unpaid internships should be banned?

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