David Letterman and his production company, Worldwide Pants, are victims of a class action law suit of a previous intern that claims she was not paid for her duties that were performed. According to her claim, interns were given the duties of paid workers in order to keep costs down.
Mallory Musallam filed the lawsuit on behalf of over 6 years of unpaid interns. According to the court records that were delivered to David Letterman, interns were wrongfully classified to avid paying minimum wages.
“Beginning in approximately September 2008 and, upon information and belief, continuing through the present, Defendants have maintained a policy and practice of wrongfully classifying Named Plaintiff and others similarly situated that worked on The Late Show with David Letterman as exempt from minimum wages and overtime compensation.”
It goes on to say,
“Named Plaintiff has initiated this action seeking for herself, and on behalf of all similarly situated employees that also worked on The Late Show with David Letterman, all compensation, including minimum wages and overtime compensation, which they were deprived of, plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs.”
Although it is not illegal to hire interns for no pay, the suit is claiming that the work of others was pushed on to interns in order to save money on overtime and such. CBS, on behalf of David Letterman, responded to the lawsuit and defended itself in the process.
“This lawsuit is part of a nationwide trend of class-action lawyers attacking internship opportunities provided by companies in the media and entertainment industry. We pride ourselves on providing valuable internship experiences, and we take seriously all of our obligations under relevant labor and employment laws.”
A similar lawsuit was filed during the 2010 film, The Black Swan. along with others since then. The trend of interns suing for pay may potentially change the way that interns are compensated for their work. Traditionally, interns are paid in experience, rather than cash. Some businesses to pay their interns a meager wage to live on while they gain the experience, but many opt not to, in lieu of the content for a resume. While legally, the Late Show and David Letterman probably did not do anything wrong in their practice, they might have ethically crossed the boundaries of the way they treat their interns.
How do you feel about the lawsuit? Is it a means for the intern to gain fifteen minutes in the spotlight and get noticed? Will it hurt her chances at gaining meaningful employment? Is she in the right?
[Photo Courtesy: New York Pages]