NEW YORK — Increasingly, former unpaid interns are suing their former employers for the wages the interns believe they have earned. Now, the former interns are receiving outside support for their claims. The National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) and others, including the Economic Policy Institute and the Writers Guild of America East, have submitted their support for former unpaid interns suing Fox Entertainment Group Inc. to the Second Circuit. The NELA also filed a similar supporting statement, known as an amicus brief, with the Second Circuit for the interns who were denied certification in their ongoing wage claim against Hearst Corp.
Supporting Intern Pay
The NELA argues that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is intended to apply to just about everyone, and that unpaid internships should receive far greater scrutiny than they are currently. The NELA also claims using the term “intern” instead of “employee” is a growing trend in efforts to avoid wage and hour laws. In their amicus brief, the NELA claims unpaid internships not only deprive employees of earned compensation, they also harm competition. Employers who, allegedly like Fox and Hearst, do not pay their interns, receive the unfair advantage of essentially free labor over employers who properly pay interns for their efforts.
Intern Claims In The Second Circuit
Fox is requesting the Second Circuit reverse a June 2013 decision that granted class and collective action certification in its former interns’ wage claim. The June 2013 decision also ruled two former interns working on “Black Swan” were employees, which Fox would like reversed as well. And Fox is requesting the Second Circuit review and address the actual standards used in certification determinations, since the Fox and Hearst decisions had opposing rulings. The Second Circuit is hearing the appeals in both the Fox and Hearst intern cases in tandem because of the similar focus on intern classification.
The unpaid interns’ lawsuits are yet another reminder that job titles do not always mean what one might think. An intern who does the same work as an entry-level employee may be called an intern, but the FLSA would most likely classify the intern as an employee. This is much like how a manager who does not supervise or have any legitimate authority over others would likely be classified as a nonexempt employee, even though managers are frequently presumed to be exempt from wage and overtime laws.
If you are a current or former unpaid intern and you believe you are performing the same work as an entry-level employee, your employer may owe you compensation. Contact our top-rated team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your rights. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our knowledgeable legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement. However, there are strict time deadlines for filing lawsuits so it is important to contact an attorney immediately.