Spotlight for Career Services Professionals, October 12, 2011
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals, October 12, 2011
Two interns who worked on the movie “Black Swan” have filed a class-action lawsuit charging that the film’s production company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. The suit alleges that Fox Searchlight used unpaid interns to perform “menial tasks” that should have been performed by paid employees and failed to provide an educational or training element to their internships that would help exempt the company from having to pay the interns.
Filed in Manhattan’s federal court by Alex Footman and Eric Glatt, the lawsuit challenges the entertainment industry’s common practice of using unpaid workers during film production. The plaintiffs also assert that they were required to bring their personal laptops and cell phones to work each day “in order to perform their duties as interns, for the benefit and convenience of defendant” with no reimbursement.
According to the lawsuit, Fox Searchlight produced “Black Swan” for $13 million, but has grossed more than $300 million worldwide.
Footman and Glatt are seeking to recover unpaid wages—including overtime and spread-of-hours pay—and other damages for all interns or assistants who worked without pay on Fox Searchlight films in New York between September 28, 2005, and the date of the case’s final judgment. The plaintiffs also “seek injunctive relief to ensure the unlawful policies and practices do not continue.”
The suit alleges that “Fox Searchlight has been able to reduce its film production costs by employing a steady stream of unpaid interns…In misclassifying many of its workers as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees, including unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance, sexual harassment and discrimination protections, and, most crucially, the right to earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.”
Click here for more information about this lawsuit.