NBCUniversal Inc., one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies, illegally employs hundreds of interns in violation of federal and state labor laws, Outten & Golden LLP alleged today in New York federal court.
The class action complaint, filed on behalf of former interns Jesse Moore and Monet Eliastam, accuses NBCUniversal of failing to pay interns proper wages required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL).
According to the complaint, “By misclassifying Plaintiffs and hundreds of workers as unpaid or underpaid interns, NBCUniversal has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees, including unemployment, workers’ compensation insurance, social security contributions, and, most crucially, the right to earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.”
Mr. Moore worked in the booking department at MSNBC in 2011. Ms. Eliastam worked on the staff of Saturday Night Live in 2012.
The interns are represented by Justin M. Swartz and Juno Turner of Outten & Golden’s New York office.
Mr. Swartz said, “We hope that this case will send a clear message that private companies cannot rely on unpaid interns to perform entry-level work that contributes to operations and reduces their labor costs. Our clients and other unpaid interns seem to have been as integral to NBCUniversal’s business as other employees, but are different in a crucial way – NBCUniversal didn’t pay them.”
Ms. Turner said, “The law is clear: if you work, you must be paid. Unpaid internships are not lawful unless they are part of a real training program that involves much more than just learning on the job, and they are not lawful if the interns’ work provides a direct benefit to the company.”
Outten & Golden will seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action to recover unpaid wages, interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs for interns who worked at NBCUniversal between July 3, 2010 and the date of a final judgment.
This case is “Jesse Moore and Monet Eliastam, et al., v. NBCUniversal, Inc.,” No 13 CV 4634, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
Outten & Golden represents interns in four other lawsuits. In “Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc.,” No. 11 Civ. 6784, a U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York concluded last month that Fox illegally failed to pay wages to its interns, and granted class action status. The others are a case against Conde Nast, “Ballinger and Leib, et al., v. Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc. d/b/a Conde Nast Publications,” No 13 Civ. 4036, in the Southern District of New York; “Wang v. The Hearst Corporation,” No. 12 Civ. 0793, in the Southern District of New York; and “Bickerton v. Charles Rose and Charlie Rose, Inc.,” No. 650780/2012 in the New York Supreme Court.