More details have been revealed as the 2011 Black Swan intern lawsuit once again reared its ugly head, with news that the interns involved in sueing Fox Searchlight are now looking to expand their case into a class action lawsuit against Fox Entertainment Global as a whole. Why? Because apparently the Fox Searchlight intern program has the same standards and practices as the one in place for the bigger entity.
Last year, two interns who worked on Black Swan sued Fox Searchlight because they felt the internship program violated minimum wage and overtime laws.
The word ‘internship’ can cover a lot these days; for example, in certain industries, they’re crucial to gaining experience and contacts before being eligible for paying jobs. But in some cases, they can involve hard work with interns often working just as hard, or harder, than regular employees in order to get noticed, and believe compensation should be given; many interns are expected to accept either purely college credit, or even just a line on a resume.
This is where the rub comes in: college is not cheap, and with the cost increasing annually, it’s becoming harder and harder for a college grad to accept a job that won’t immediately help pay off their heavy loans. As you can imagine, the whole debacle has brought up a heavy debate about the way forward for internships.
The expansion of the lawsuit was detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, which says Fox began paying their interns in July 2010. These cases are all from before that when interns were merely given college credit. Here’s some of the interesting bits as quoted from /Film:
The original case states that “Fox Searchlight’s unpaid interns are a crucial labor force on its productions, functioning as production assistants and bookkeepers and performing secretarial and janitorial work. … In misclassifying many of its workers as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees.” At the time, Fox countered by saying the interns in question worked for the Black Swan production company, not Fox Searchlight directly.
A judge will rule if the original lawsuit will be amended to class action on August 24 and, at that point, it may become a much bigger thing.
What do you think about this case? Should all interns expect to be compensated?