June 24th, 2013 by Anthony Caruso
Justin Henry, a former intern with Atlantic Records, filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, as well as parent company Warner Music Group, over his unpaid internship. The number of lawsuits against music, movie, and entertainment companies for unpaid work has steadily increased in recent years, and may play a bigger role in labor and entertainment law in the coming years, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Henry claims that he was never compensated for the work he performed for the company between October 2007 through May 2008, which he says violates labor laws. He argues that he was required to wrk more than 40-hour work weeks, and sometimes required to stay late into the evening. In the lawsuit, Henry notes that the work tasks he performed were not educational or vocational in nature, and that the roles performed would have needed to be done by employees if he was not doing the work for free, the Post-Dispatch reports. The former intern seeks to recover claimed unpaid minimum wages and overtime wages for himself and other individuals facing similar circumstances. The latter class is believed to be greater than 100 individuals.
This is not the first case of this type the entertainment industry has seen, and in recent weeks, a federal judge sided with the plaintiff in a case revolving around unpaid internships. U.S. District Judge William Pauley III ruled against Fox Searchlight Pictures when an intern who worked on the hit “Black Swan” filed a suit after failing to be compensated for the work. Pauley ruled that the film company violated minimum wage and overtime laws by not paying interns who did the same work as regular employees, the news source reports.
The ruling may have also sparked another recent lawsuit against Conde Nast Publications from two interns who were not paid minimum wage. A separate lawsuit is also ongoing against Hearst Publications for related reasons.