Following unconfirmed reports of grueling work hours contributing to the death of a 21-year-old intern, Bank of America says it is investigating the matter.
In a prepared statement, company spokesman John McIvor said the company has “convened a formal senior working group to consider the facts as they become known, to review all aspects of this tragedy, to listen to employees at all levels and to help us learn from them.”
Moritz Erhardt was just a week short of completing his internship at Bank of America’s London offices when he died at Claredale House, a residential facility for students, on Aug. 15. Media outlets have reported that Erhardt, a student at WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany, had pulled eight all-nighters in two weeks and worked 72 hours straight in the days leading up to his death. The cause of death has not been determined.
Erhardt, who recently completed an exchange program at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, was described by McIvor as a popular and “highly diligent” intern with a bright future. On the social media platform Seelio, Erhardt described himself as “highly competitive and ambitious.”
His death set off a high-octane debate over the sometimes-punishing hours worked in the investment banking industry. Some commenters have compared the big banks to sweatshops preying on ambitious young students desperate for a job offer, and others have said employees should simply walk away when work hours become too grueling.