Why The Olsen Twins Were Sued By Their Former Employees

The Olsen twins have built an impressive empire since their career began on "Full House" when they were just 6 months old. Viewers got to see the infants as they both portrayed the role of baby Michelle Tanner in the series, which debuted in 1987, and the duo remained on the sitcom until it ended in 1995.  However, by the time the show wrapped, the twins had already begun their next career move. While still on the series, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen founded their media company, Dualstar, at just 6 years old, which produced several of their films, including "New York Minute." After its release in 2004, the ladies shifted their attention to the clothing industry, a major change from their "Full House" days. Under their Dualstar imprint, they established their luxury clothing line, The Row, in 2006, which was the subject of controversy after several unpaid staffers who worked there sued the twins for overworking them.

The wage theft lawsuit first came about in August 2015. Dozens of Dualstar's interns (the majority of whom worked at The Row, while the remainder interned with a different Olsen-owned brand, Elizabeth and James) criticized the business for its unreasonable demands and even off-the-clock work. The court case would play out for nearly two years before the famed twins resolved the issue.

Over 180 interns joined a class-action lawsuit against the Olsen twins' company

When the class-action lawsuit was filed against Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and their company, Dualstar, it began with approximately 40 interns. Parsons School of Design alumni and fashion designer Shahista Lalani is the whistleblower who kicked off the lawsuit against Dualstar. According to Lalani, during her time as Head Intern with The Row, she worked constantly, going above the typical intern duties at the urging of the Head Technical Designer.

"I was doing the work of three interns. I was talking to her all day, all night. Emails at nighttime for the next day, like 10 p.m. at night," Lalani told Page Six shortly after the suit was filed in August 2015. The extensive workload would eventually lead Lalani to become ill. Dozens of other plaintiffs followed Lalani's lead, though Dualstar did not take the claims lightly. Once news of the suit spread, they issued a statement to E! News, denying the accusations. 

Part of their response read: "The allegations in the complaint filed against Dualstar are groundless, and Dualstar will vigorously defend itself against plaintiff's claims in court, not before the media."

The Olsen twins paid thousands to settle the suit

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen didn't appear to have had a direct hand in the wrongdoing at Dualstar. Former staffer Shahista Lalani might have been provoked to file the suit due to the demands of The Row, but she admitted that the Olsen twins were pleasant during her brief sightings of them at the Manhattan headquarters. Nevertheless, by the time 2017 rolled around, the number of plaintiffs had grown to 185. By March 2017, the twins were ready to put the matter to rest. Dualstar and the twins agreed to a maximum payout of $140,000. Under the settlement terms, the money would be divided into $530 payments to qualifying plaintiffs. 

In the years that followed, another lawsuit emerged, this time filed by Ashley's ex-boyfriend, David Schulte, in March 2020. He'd exited his position as President of The Row in October 2019, but the details surrounding his lawsuit against his former partner and her sister remain sealed. Therefore, it is unknown if his claim has been resolved. Since the Olsen twins have left Hollywood behind, the businesswomen are infamously quiet about personal matters. Therefore, it's unlikely that they'll ever speak publicly regarding these lawsuits.