Laura O'Donnell in U.S. News & World Report: Unpaid 'Black Swan' Interns Get Court Victory

06/13/2013


The days of doing menial office work for free may soon be in the past. This week, a judge ruled in favor of two former unpaid interns. Judge William H. Pauley III declared that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated the law by not paying former interns Eric Glatt and Andrew Footman. Labor advocates are hoping it will be the start of a sea change in the way employers offer internships. But that shift could be a long time in coming.

Glatt and Footman filed suit in 2011 against Fox Searchlight, saying their internships on the production of the 2009 film "Black Swan" violated labor laws. The interns did work such as filing, making coffee, getting signatures on documents, and assembling office furniture, and claimed that they should have been paid for that work under the Fair Labor Standards Act...

"It's not well understood by lay people in a lot of respects, and there are a lot of different practices, and this is one, that develop over time and become widespread," says Laura O'Donnell, a labor and employment law attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP, a Texas-based law firm. Whether or not employers consult with lawyers, she says, they might think to themselves, "Everybody does it, or my neighbor down the street does it, so why can't we do it?"

Excerpted from the U.S. News & World Report, June 13, 2013. To view full article, click here.

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