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Interns Sue for Unpaid 16 Hour Work Days


While an increasing number of underpaid workers have been refusing to withstand mistreatment, with or without the bad economy, there has been a parallel rise in interns filing class action lawsuits. This blog has recently discussed such cases, including the one against Conde Nast and the one against Fox Searchlight Pictures.

An additional class action lawsuit involving interns has been filed against Crook Brothers Productions, Jeff and Josh Crook, Larry Schwarz Media Group, and Larry Schwarz and His Band. The class action lawsuit was filed by Kevin Hicks, who worked as an unpaid intern on a show produced by Crook Brothers Productions. The show is “Alien Dawn” and it premiered on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons earlier this year.

Hicks alleges that he regularly worked 10-12 hours a day, sometimes working as much as 16 hours in a day. The duties he performed included moving boxes, driving vans, assembling and painting props, costuming characters, taking out the trash, and appearing as an extra in some scenes. The lawsuit is seeking collective class action status for all interns who worked for Crook Brothers Productions. The lawsuit is asking for the court to grant them double back wages, an injunction against future involvement in this illegal employment practice, in addition to attorney’s fees and costs.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York by attorneys Maurice Pianko and Jesse Strauss. It is the sixth intern lawsuit to be filed by Pianko’s practice, Intern Justice.
As this blog has discussed, there are ways in which companies can legally use unpaid interns. However, in order to do so, there are certain qualifications that the internship must meet. Among these is a learning environment for the intern, similar to vocational training. In addition, the company must not benefit overmuch from the intern’s unpaid work. For example, the intern should not be performing duties which would otherwise be fulfilled by a paid employee.

In his class action lawsuit, Hicks alleges that he did the work of a paid employee. Had he not done so, the production company would have had to hire an employee to perform the tasks. The company thereby benefited to an inordinate degree by the unpaid work performed by Hicks and other interns. The lawsuit further alleges that Hicks’s internship displaced paid employees, a situation few can afford in a struggling economy.

In the decision reached by Judge William H. Pauley, regarding the class action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures which was filed by interns for the film “Black Swan”, the judge states that unpaid interns should not be performing unskilled work which requires no special training. The tasks performed by Hicks during his internship, such as taking out the trash, certainly cannot be considered skilled work.

The Illinois overtime attorneys and Chicago FLSA attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against 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 Evanston and Aurora. 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.