Earlier this week a New York federal judge tentatively approved a $450,000 settlement of an unpaid intern class action that was filed against Elite Model Management. The case, Davenport v. Elite Model Management Corp., 13-CV 01061, U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y., was filed in February 2013 by a former Elite intern on behalf of herself and all other interns who worked for the modeling agency from February 15, 2007 to the date of final judgment in the case.
The Complaint in the case alleged, among other things, violation of the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law. The $450,000 settlement is believed to be the largest settlement of an unpaid intern case to date.
This case illustrates the problems with internship programs that do not satisfy the strict prerequisites and guidelines applied to determine whether an internship is part of a bona fide program or just a way for an employer to enjoy free labor. We previously wrote about these issues back in 2010 and 2011. Since that time other cases have been filed alleging the misclassification of intern status and have resulted in liabilty for unpaid minimum wage and overtime pay.