Unpaid Interns Are Suing MSNBC and SNL

theatlanticwire.com Rebecca Greenfield
July 3, 2013

After two former unpaid Black Swan interns got a judge to rule in their favor, the intern lawsuits have been flowing like water, with  NBC Universal the latest to be internsued. The two plaintiffs named in the case, Jesse Moore and Monet Eliastam, say they worked without pay for MSNBC and on Saturday Night Live, respectively, but it looks like the case is seeking to build a class action for all unpaid interns across the media conglomerate and say they are seeking at least $5 million in back pay, reports The Hollywood Reporter. They are represented by the same lawyers as the ones who  represented the Black Swan guys  against Fox Searchlight, and they are clearly looking to build on that suit.  The complaint  even directly mentions their win last month as justification for the filing…

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That part about the “NYLL class” is particularly important: The lawyers are hoping they can get a bundle of money for a whole group of underlings, not just two part-time, minimum wage workers. Moore and Eliastam each worked about 25 and 29 hours per week respectively doing the usual intern tasks of filing, running errands, answering phones, and assisting production. They’re seeking minimum wage back pay for the work.  

But the part of the suit that could turn this into a major corporate headache for all of NBC Universal, which is now owned by Cablevision, is that the complaint claims many, many others worked without pay. “Our clients and other unpaid interns seem to have been as integral to NBC Universal’s business as other employees, but are different in a crucial way — NBC Universal didn’t pay them,” said Justin Swartz, attorney for the plaintiffs, in a statement. Note the mention of “other unpaid interns.”  

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