A recent wave of putative wage-and-hour class actions against media and entertainment companies over unpaid internships continued Wednesday when former interns for MSNBC and “Saturday Night Live” sued NBCUniversal Inc. for allegedly misclassifying them to avoid paying them proper wages.
NBCUniversal joins Warner Music Group Corp. and Gawker Media LLC among the companies that have been sued since a New York federal judge ruled June 11 that a Fox Entertainment Group Inc. unit misclassified unpaid coffee-fetching interns who worked on the movie “Black Swan” when it failed to call them employees.
Named plaintiffs Jesse Moore and Monet Eliastam cited the case known as Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. in the complaint they filed against NBCUniversal in New York federal court Wednesday.
“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,” the suit said.
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“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,” plaintiffs' co-counsel Justin Swartz of Outten & Golden LLP said in a statement. “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.”
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Moore and Eliastam are represented by Justin M. Swartz and Juno Turner of Outten & Golden LLP.
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The case is Moore v. NBCUniversal Inc., case No. 13-4634, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.