Two former Black Swan interns today got a big legal boost in their favor against Fox Searchlight. In a dense order issued Tuesday a federal judge in New York granted Alex Footman and Eric Glatt a summary judgment (read it here) saying that they were in fact treated as Fox employees in their internship under the definitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. Perhaps more importantly for Hollywood at large, Judge William Pauley III also certified a class action that will look at the way the intern programs at Fox really work and do they actually provide educational experience. Fox obviously does not like either decisions We believe they are erroneous, and will seek to have them reversed by the 2nd Circuit as quickly as possible, ” they said in a statement Tuesday.
Fox may disagree with what he ordered but the judge was very clear in his definitions. In Pauley’s view what Footman and Glatt were actually doing while on director Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film wasn’t particularly educational. The benefits they may have received-such as knowledge of how a production or accounting office functions or references for future jobs-are the results of simply having worked as any other employee works, not of internships designed to be uniquely educational to the interns and of little utility to the employer. They received nothing approximating the education they would receive in an academic setting or vocational school, ” said Pauley in the 36-page order.
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Footman and Glatt are represented by Rachel Bein and Adam T. Klein of New York firm Outten & Golden LLP. The attorneys have now become class counsel in the suit.