NEW YORK — Lions Gate Entertainment has settled a FLSA class action suit brought by a former unpaid intern for “The Wendy Williams Show” produced by the company. The settlement amounted to $1.3 million and covers the claims of unpaid interns going back three years in New York and California. The 100 members of the class who were interns for the show will get checks for $600, while the representative plaintiffs will get service awards of $5,000 each.
Allegations from Unpaid Interns
The plaintiffs allege that the interns were wrongfully classified as exempt from FLSA’s minimum wage requirements and that the company maintained a policy and practice of failing to provide compensation at the minimum wage rate for all hours worked. According to the plaintiffs, the work they performed included washing dishes, getting coffee, picking up art supplies, stocking printers, throwing out trash, and creating a tape diary. They claim that these duties did not provide interns with any valuable academic or vocational training.
DOL Guidance on Unpaid Internships Under FLSA
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, internships in the private sector will most often be viewed as employment unless several factors are met. If the internship fails to meet these factors, then, according to DOL, interns must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.
There are six factors in this determination outlined in a DOL fact sheet:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
The DOL indicated that all of the above factors must be met for an intern to be exempt from coverage under FLSA.
Internships must be primarily for the benefit of the intern and must be similar to training. If the employer derives benefit from the intern’s activities, then it is likely covered by FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you or a loved one is an intern that should be considered an employee and paid accordingly. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.