Unpaid Interns Sue Conde Nast, Get Favorable Judgment Against Fox Searchlight
Two interns who worked for the Conde Nast titles W and The New Yorker filed a lawsuit yesterday for minimum wage and have asked for class action approval on the case. The interns say they were paid less than $1 per hour but had very real responsibilities and worked long hours.
The US Labor Department says an internship can be unpaid “if they are part of an educational training program and do not replace employees and if the company does not gain immediate advantage from an intern’s work. The work experience also must benefit the intern,” The New York Times says. One of the interns in the Conde Nast case says she was trained by another intern, and one of the workers on the magazine commented on “the poor working conditions.”
This is just the latest in a spate of intern cases.
Federal interns suing Fox Searchlight won a summary judgment in court this week and their suit has been certified a class action against the internship programs at Fox Entertainment Group. The lawsuit was first filed in late 2011 by two interns — Alex Footman and Eric Glatt — who both worked on Fox Searchlight’s film Black Swan and claimed that the company’s unpaid internship program violated minimum wage and overtime laws. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit grew with amended claims brought by additional named plaintiffs such as Kanene Gratts, who worked on Searchlight’s 500 Days of Summer and Eden Antalik, who participated in the FEG internship program.
Fox, however, claims that the production companies not Searchlight were responsible for hiring and managing the interns.
The judge added, “Considering the totality of the circumstances, Glatt and Footman were classified improperly as unpaid interns and are ’employees’ covered by the FLSA and NYLL. They worked as paid employees work, providing an immediate advantage to their employer and performed low-level tasks not requiring specialized training.”
Fox issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “We are very disappointed with the court’s rulings. We believe they are erroneous, and will seek to have them reversed by the 2nd Circuit as quickly as possible.”
The Fox interns have fared better in their battle than other inters who recently sued Hearst Publishing. There, a judge claimed the interns could filed separate suits but now a class action, as they had.