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Sterling Employment Law

"Black Swan" interns ask to open FLSA lawsuit to all of Fox's internship programs

Earlier on this blog, we told Detroit readers about how two unpaid interns who had worked on the set of Natalie Portman's Oscar-winning film "The Black Swan" had sued Fox Searchlight, alleging that their internship program violated wage and hour laws.

Now, the interns have asked to amend their lawsuit so that all of Fox Entertainment Group's internship programs, not just Fox Searchlight's, are included in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs claim that until July 2010, all of Fox Entertainment Group's interns were unpaid, even though they were required to sign confidentiality agreements, fill out I-9 forms and would have been considered "employees" as that term is defined under workers' compensation laws. (After July 2010, Fox required that any intern be paid at least $8 an hour).

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, interns can be unpaid if there is an educational component to their work, but companies are not supposed to cheat and use them in place of paid employees. The two "Black Swan" interns claim that interns are crucial to Fox's ongoing business and perform many of the duties that paid employees normally do.

This is by no means the only entertainment-related employment lawsuit regarding interns that has been filed recently. Former interns have also sued Hearst Corp. and "The Charlie Rose Show," making similar allegations.

Earlier on in the history of the lawsuit, Fox Searchlight had claimed that the interns were actually employed by a production company and that they were hired and started working before Fox even acquired the rights to "Black Swan." The company has not commented on the most recent development.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "Fox's Entire Internship Program Now Under Legal Attack," Eriq Gardner, Aug. 13, 2012

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