With unemployment across the country remaining stubbornly high, many people are desperate to get whatever work they can. As this blog has discussed, many employers are taking advantage of the low economy to squeeze as much work out of as few employees as they can. Many workers are afraid to complain or leave jobs where they are treated unfairly for fear of being unable to find work elsewhere. In the last couple years however, employees have begun to fight back and to take their employers to court over matters of unpaid overtime and missed breaks. They’re not the only ones fed up with mistreatment.
College graduates are among the hardest hit by the recession and its “jobless recovery”. They are competing for jobs with workers who are older and already have the requisite skills. As a way to gain experience and job references, many college graduates have turned to internships. The work is often unpaid but at least it gives them something to put on their resumes.
The Department of Labor has strict guidelines for unpaid internships. In order to be unpaid, the internship must have a strong educational component and be similar to vocational training. The work that the intern does should not be to the immediate advantage of the employer, nor should it replace the work of regular employees. However, many employers have taken advantage of the weak economy to have interns do menial tasks and chores without payment.
Like overtime workers though, interns have begun rebelling against this rigged system. As this blog has mentioned, a former intern for Harper’s Bazaar was recently granted class action status for all unpaid interns who worked in the company’s magazine division since February 2009.
Charlie Rose and his production company announced late last year that they would pay a settlement, which would cover back wages for as many as 189 interns. In that settlement, each intern was to receive about $1,100.
Now, Fox Searchlight Pictures has received an unfavorable ruling from a judge in a Federal District Court in Manhattan. The lawsuit was filed by two unpaid interns who worked on the film “Black Swan”. According to the judge’s decision, the internships were not of an educational nature and the studio benefited inordinately from the work that the interns performed.
The two plaintiffs, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, allege that they did basic chores, which would normally have been undertaken by regular employees. They performed such tasks as taking lunch orders, answering phones, arranging travel plans, tracking purchase orders, taking out the trash, and assembling office furniture.
While Judge William H. Pauley III conceded that the interns did receive some benefits from their internships “such as resume listings, job references, and an understanding of how a production office works,” he goes on to say that “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 Illinois overtime attorneys and Chicago FLSA attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against Hotels, Restaurants, Retail Stores and Chains, Banks and real-estate companies for misclassifying appraisers or loan officers as managers, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Peoria and Rock Island. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Skokie and Rolling Meadows overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.