The battle over unpaid interns and the legality of such arrangements isn’t a new one. In all sectors of American business, unpaid internships are coming under fire, but no legal action against internship bosses has been as heated as the one between two former interns for Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan and the film company. Now, the plaintiffs are taking the battle beyond the Fox subsidiary and up to the mountain: they’re setting their sights on all Fox Entertainment Group internships.
According to court documents obtained by THR
, the plaintiffs aim to “broaden the scope of the case to include all interns who participated in Fox Entertainment Group’s internship program.” Of course, there are a lot of moving parts to this legal puzzle. To make it a bit easier, we’ve boiled it down to the five need-to-know nuggets:
1. The Problem Allegedly Exists Across All FEG Companies: The plaintiffs claim that until July 2012, all FEG interns were not paid, but were classified as employees under workers’ compensation laws.
2. It’s No Longer Just a Production Issue: The lawsuit is getting so large, it’s expanding beyond just on-set internships. The plaintiffs want to include corporate internships as well as production internships in their lawsuit.
3. Two New Plaintiffs Are Coming to the Table: Eden Antalik was a corporate intern at FEG and Kanene Gratts was a production intern on (500) Days of Summer.
4. Labor Department Rules Say Un-Paid Interns Can’t Replace Actual Employees: Yet, Fox 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,” according to first lawsuit filed by the plaintiffs.
5. Fox Says Black Swan Interns Weren’t Theirs, But a Larger Lawsuit Would Negate The Issue: Fox says Fox Searchlight did not retain any interns who worked on the production before Black Swan came under the Searchlight name. This expansion beyond the Darren Aronofsky film and into the corporate internship program, however, could render that claim useless.