Unpaid “Interns” File Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay Lawsuit Against Movie Studio

Two interns filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York City alleging that Fox Searchlight Pictures, the producer of “Black Swan,” misclassified them as unpaid interns despite that they engaged in work, typically performed by paid employees. Among other things, the interns alleged that they performed work such as making coffee, taking out trash, and handling lunch orders.
We wrote about the issue of misclassification of workers as unpaid interns in our May 25, 2010 blog, Department of Labor Issues Guidelines on Unpaid Internships. To be valid, an internship must provide an educational experience, and not just amount to an unpaid job. In recent years, both the United States Department of Labor and New York State Department of Labor have scrutinized internships to make sure that they are legitimate.
Both federal and New York law require that employees be paid the minimum wage for hours worked, as well as overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 in a given workweek. Thus, if the court rules that the interns, who worked at Fox Searchlight Pictures, were really employees, the movie studio will be liable for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime pay.

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