Former Unpaid Interns File Labor Violation Class Action Against Gawker.com, Create Social Media Campaign
Former unpaid interns for popular website Gawker.com have filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging wage and labor violations.
Several recent lawsuits, including one against NBCUniversal and Saturday Night Live, allege that the companies advertised for unpaid internships, but in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the companies required their unpaid interns to work jobs that would otherwise involve paid labor.
Unpaid internships, by definition in the Fair Labor Standards Act, require the internships to benefit the intern, not the company. However, Fox Searchlight recently settled a large class action lawsuit from unpaid interns working on the film “Black Swan,” who alleged that the company benefitted from unpaid intern labor, but the interns received no job training, skills, or connections that would benefit them in finding paid work after the internship. NBCUniversal also settled a large labor violations class action against their company, in the unprecedented amount of $6.4 million.
In mid-October, the judge overseeing the Gawker.com labor violations class action ruled that the plaintiffs – the former unpaid interns – had been given jobs in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The unpaid interns were supervised in the same way paid employees were, received communication from management the same way paid employees did, contributed to Gawker’s publications (normally a paid position), moderated sections of the website, and received primary on-the-job training – which qualifies them to file a lawsuit against the company for labor violations.
In another coup for the plaintiffs, the judge allowed the plaintiffs and their attorneys to create a social media campaign advertising their labor violations class action, to help spread the word about wage and labor violations involving unpaid interns, and specifically involving Gawker.com.
One attorney said, “These are Millennials. They don’t read paper.” A Pew Research Center poll showed that 89% of people in the age group of the unpaid interns use Twitter.
Gawker’s blogging roster includes several sites that receive millions of hits per day, as well as re-Tweets and posts to Facebook, G+, and other social media sites, including Jezebel.com; Gizmodo; and Deadspin.
Ross Perlin, author of the 2012 book “Intern Nation,” agrees that unpaid internships are often violations of wage and labor standards.
“Unpaid internships right now are a huge giveaway for employers, worth billions — that should come back to young people,” Perlin told The Times this year. He estimates that there are around 500,000 unpaid intern in the US.
Labor Violations in South Carolina
If you feel you are not receiving adequate pay for your overtime hours in violation of employment law , we may be able to help. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) anyone receiving hourly compensation, (subject to limited exceptions) must be paid time and half for any hours worked over 40 during one work week. The FLSA, and other employment laws, may not cover weekends or holidays unless these are specifically overtime hours. Many times employers will pay extra for holiday or weekend hours, but it is not required, and is left to the discretion of the employer.
Filing A Claim Against An Employer For Labor Violations Can Be Tricky
When filing a complaint against your employer for labor violations including lost wages and mis-tracked hours, you may want to enlist the help of a South Carolina employment attorney. Understanding overtime laws can be daunting. The South Carolina business litigation attorney at the Strom Law Firm, LLC can help you interpret labor laws and settle any labor violations you have witnessed or experienced. Many overtime claim cases are won because the employer failed to keep adequate wage and hour records. The Strom Law Firm will investigate all aspects of your labor violations claim, and seek to secure you the compensation you have rightfully earned. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation. 803.252.4800.