Friday, June 14, 2013

Federal judge rules Fox subsidiary violated FSLA with its unpaid interns in making "Black Swan"

A federal judge, William Pauley in New York, has ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated US minimum wage laws by not paying interns.  The Los Angeles Times has the basic story on its “Company Town” page by Daniel Miller, here.

The violations occurred during the making of “Black Swan” (directed by Darren Aronofsy, reviewed on the movies blog, Dec. 3, 2010).
  
I was a little surprised that Fox would run a separate production support operation for Searchlight, just out of business efficiency concerns.  Warner Brothers (long with New Line)  has dropped having separate production staffs for its more independent films. 
  
The plaintiffs included Eric Glatt and Andrew Footman, who said they performed menial tasks that should have been paid for. 
  
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, there are some criteria that allow some interning. It must not displace a regular employee, and must provide a benefit for the intern (such as academic credit, or training).
  
George Washington University had a symposium on unpaid internships in 2010, video here.
  
  

One company I worked for in the early 1990s  used “interns” from programming schools for tasks like librarian work and checking elevation packages.  I think they were paid something, though.  

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