Courtesy: The Associated Press
Two interns who worked on the film "Black Swan" are considered to be Fox
Searchlight employees, a Federal Judge ruled recently. A third intern
can represent a class, Courthouse New reported.
In October 2011, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, interns on the film "Black Swan" from 2009 to 2010, sued Fox Searchlight and its parent company, Fox Entertainment Group, under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.
Neither Glatt, who said he worked in accounting, nor Footman, who
said he was in the production office, received pay or college credit
while working on the film in New York.
"This practice runs afoul of basic wage-and-hour laws, which require
that employers pay all of their employees - even those desperate for the
work - the minimum wage, as well as overtime for hours over 40 in a
workweek," the complaint said. "In misclassifying many of its workers
as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them the benefits that the
law affords to employees, including unemployment and workers'
compensation insurance, sexual harassment and discrimination
protections, and, most crucially, the right to earn a fair day's wage
for a fair day's work."
Glatt claimed he worked five days a week for 40 to 50 hours per week,
for 51 days. He worked another 44 days in post-production. Footman said
he worked five days a week, 40 to 50 hours a week, for about 95 days.
The movie took in more than $300 million in revenues.
The men seek class damages for money owed on Fox Searchlight films
from September 2005 until the final judgment. They also seek an
injunction to prevent Fox Searchlight from using unpaid interns on its
film productions. According to the suit, Fox Searchlight used more than
100 unpaid interns on "Black Swan."
In the 36-page decision, Judge William Pauley III acknowledged that
Glatt and Footman clearly benefited from their internships with resume
listings, job references and "an understanding of how a production
"But those benefits were incidental to working in the office like any
other employee and were not the result of internships intentionally
structured to benefit them," the judge continued. "Resume listings and
job references result from any work relationship, paid or unpaid, and
are not the academic or vocational training benefits envisioned by this
"On the other hand, Searchlight received the benefits of their unpaid work, which otherwise would have required paid employees."
Interns have filed lawsuits against other media companies. On
Thursday, two former interns filed a lawsuit against Condé Nast, the New York Times reports.
They claimed the company did not pay them minimum wage during their
summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker, in 2009 and 2010. They
asked that it be approved as a class-action suit.
In May, a New York judge dismissed a class-action suit by a group of unpaid interns against Hearst Corp. The judge ruled that they don't meet the definition of a class, but that they could sue as individuals.
A third intern in the Fox case, Eden Antalik, who worked at
Searchlight's corporate offices in New York, can represent a class of
other unpaid interns alleging violation of New York Labor Law, Pauley
ruled. Those interns worked at various Fox Entertainment Group outfits
from Sept. 28, 2008 to Sept. 1, 2010.
While both Glatt and Footman knew they were not going to be paid-and
they did not expect to be hired at the end of their internships-"this
factor adds little, because the FLSA does not allow employees to waive
their entitlement to wages," Pauley wrote. "Considering the totality of
the circumstances, Glatt and Footman were classified improperly as
unpaid interns and are 'employees' covered by the FLSA and NYLL."
In a statement, Fox spokesman Chris Petrikin said that the company
believes the Court's rulings are "erroneous, and will seek to have them
reversed by the [U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals] as quickly as