Moritz Erhardt, an intern for the Bank of America, died with only a week to go in a challenging summer intern program in London. Bank of America spokesman John McIvor acknowledged that the 21-year-old intern died in a telephone call to business news source Bloomberg on Monday.
Moritz Erhardt actually died on August 15. The Metropolitan Police in London looked into the intern’s death and reportedly called it non-suspicious.
The German business studies student was found unconscious at his student residence house. He couldn’t be aroused, and paramedics eventually pronounced him dead at the scene.
But now a firestorm of outrage has erupted in the United Kingdom. Many people accuse Bank of America of working the intern to death.
There are multiple uncomfirmed reports that Erhardt worked through the night three nights in a row, returning home briefly each morning to wash up. If true, the Bank of America intern endured 72 hours without sleep before he collapsed into his final coma.
The Independent is reporting allegations that Moritz Erhardt was found dead in his shower after three straight all-nighters that had the intern coming home at 6 AM — just in time to get ready to go back to work. Another anonymous former banker said that interns routinely put in 100 or 110 hours a week but said he hadn’t heard of the strenuous schedule killing anyone else.
Erhardt may have been vulnerable because he had epilepsy.
Josh Herrmann for the Evening Standard talked to several other interns staying at the residence where Moritz Erhardt died. Many were willing to discuss the long hours in the competitive banking industry as long as their names weren’t used.
One student said: “Every intern’s worst nightmare is what’s called the magic roundabout…which is when you get a taxi to drive you home at 7 AM and then it waits for you while you shower and change and then takes you back to the office.”
No one has gone on the record with an accusation. And Bank of America, the residence house, and Scotland Yard evidently don’t see anything suspicious about the death.
But the rest of us know that people don’t stay awake for 72 hours without help. There’s a growing culture of high-performing individuals using — or abusing — so-called smart drugs like Adderall and Provigil to stay awake longer and out-perform the competition.
Is it impossible that these drugs are being used by banking interns? Did they contribute to a vulnerable worker’s death?
Before the London authorities or Bank of America close the book on intern Moritz Erhardt’s death, I’d like to know how they eliminated that possibility.