ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Victory for Interns Everywhere!

I don't know if this recent case will help Hall's Mentho-Lyptus with the Triple-Colling Action Presents Jay the Intern, but it might help some of our law students.

As The Atlantic reports here, Federal District Judge William H. Pauley III ruled on June 11th in favor of two interns who sued Fox Searchlight studios for breaching New York and federal minumum wage laws in failing to pay them for their work on the studio's academy award winning film, "Black Swan."  The Atlantic helpfully links to this page from the U.S. Department of Labor that establishes a six-part test for when interns can go unpaid.  Here are the six criteria:The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;

  1. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  2. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  3. 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;
  4. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  5. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Considering the totality of the circumstances, Judge Pauley concluded that the plaintiffs were employees and that Fox Searchlight had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act as well as New York law by not paying them minimum wage.  The court also allowed certification of a class of unpaid interns who worked for various Fox affiliates between 2005 and 2010.  

Fox Searchlight plans to appeal to the Second Circuit.

Judge Pauley's 36-page opinion can be found here.


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