Rashida Salaam (pictured) joins the ranks of students who think unpaid internships = volunteer slavery
Last summer, Rashida Salaam, a former unpaid intern at Bad Boy Entertainment, sued the company, accusing P Diddy and his staff of violating minimum wage laws. She says she from January to May 2012 she had to answer telephones, get lunch and coffee for paid employees, make deliveries, gift-wrap presents and decorate the office during holidays–not exactly interesting or skill-building tasks.
Salaam, a recent CCNY graduate, joins increasing numbers of unpaid interns who claim that working for free equals exploitation. Earlier this year, a judge in New York ruled in favor of several unpaid interns who sued the producers of the movie “Black Swan” for violating federal labor laws. (The company is appealing.) This fall, Conde Nast suspended its internship program after students sued W and the New Yorker magazines.
Unpaid internships can provide a much needed foot in the door, especially for kids who don’t have connections or relatives who can walk them into companies like Conde Nast and Universal Music Group, the parent company of Bad Boy. On the other hand, unpaid internships actually means paying to work, since students have to shell out tuition money for the credits they earn as interns.
Salaam says she has no animosity against Bad Boy. “I was taken advantage of as far as wages go,” she told the Daily News. “I was naive.”