As many large media companies make what the New York Times calls a “semantic shift” from internships to low-paying fellowships for entry-level workers, the publication sought out labor and employment expert Professor David Yamada for his views; the Times article "Fellowship or Internship? In Media, The Definition Has Become Fluid" appeared on November 23.
Condé Nast, the publisher of the New Yorker, Vogue and Glamour, recently agreed to pay $5.8 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by former interns who claimed they were underpaid for their work at the company’s magazines. The case is just one of many being fought by media companies who have been sued by workers who earned little or nothing for internships.
When news broke last year that Condé Nast was ending its multi-site internship program in the face of lawsuits, national media outlets contacted Professor Yamada for commentary. The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine were among those who called.
In 2002, Yamada became one of the first legal scholars to write about the employment law implications of unpaid internships and the growing “intern economy.” (“The Employment Law Rights of Student Interns,” Connecticut Law Review). Today, the legal status of unpaid interns is receiving national media attention, thanks in part to a recent federal court decision holding that unpaid interns who worked on the production of the movie “Black Swan” were entitled to back pay under minimum wage laws.
Yamada is a sought-after interviewee on the rights of interns, having been quoted by The Associated Press, Bloomberg, In These Times, Wall Street Journal, International Business Times, and numerous other media outlets.
ProPublica recently profiled Yamada calling him "ahead of the curve" in the debate over unpaid internships and discussed further what Yamada is calling "a period of potential restructuring of what we've been calling the intern economy." Yamada has been a resource expert and commentator to ProPublica’s ongoing investigative project on the intern economy.
In addition, he is the author of a forthcoming law review article, “The Legal and Social Movement Against Unpaid Internships” (Northeastern University Law Journal), which analyzes recent legal and policy developments and the emergence of an intern rights movement.
Yamada’s blog, Minding the Workplace, has become an internationally recognized source of commentary on labor and employment relations, including his extensive work on issues such as the intern economy and bullying in the workplace.