NEW YORK — A group of former interns for Viacom, Inc., who sued the company and all affiliated companies for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), has received approval from a federal court of a $1.6 million proposed settlement agreement that would settle their claims. The court, after conducting a settlement hearing, found the proposed settlement was an appropriate resolution that the parties reached through negotiations in a relatively complex wage dispute. The settlement would pay 1,311 participating interns $605 per semester that they were participating in the internship, up to two semesters. $645,000 of the settlement amount will go to pay attorneys’ fees, and $14,000 will be paid to the representative plaintiffs as service awards.
Interns Claim Misclassification
According to the suit, the representative plaintiff typically worked three days per week for seven or eight hours at a time while at MTV Networks, which is an affiliated company of Viacom. According to the plaintiff, he performed tasks similar to paid employees such as web design, coding, creating spreadsheets, and updating the network’s mobile website. The plaintiff alleges that the interns for Viacom were misclassified as exempt from minimum wage requirements and should be properly compensated. This case is the latest in a string of class wage suits brought by interns.
FLSA Coverage of Interns
Under FLSA, non-exempt individuals who are “suffered or permitted” to work must be compensated for the services they perform. Internships in the private sector will likely be viewed as employment, unless the test below is satisfied:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in school;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace actual employees, but works under close supervision of staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion, its operations may be hampered;
- 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.
If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist and the intern is considered exempt from FLSA.
Unpaid internships have come under greater scrutiny in recent years from a wage and hour standpoint. If you or someone you know is wrongfully classified as an unpaid intern, you should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page. 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.