Attorneys in a lawsuit that previously focused on a single internship program within Fox Entertainment group are looking to expand the case to include the entire division, THR reports.
The case, which began in the fall of 2011, had once centered on the "Black Swan" internship program at Fox Searchlight. Two interns sued the studio for alleged violations of employment laws (minimum wage, etc.). But now, the two more plaintiffs -- a "corporate intern" at Fox and a "production intern" who worked on "(500) Days Of Summer" -- have been added to the suit.
A hearing on August 24 will look into whether or not this class action is legally permissible, but things don't bode well for Fox. THR quotes the filing:
According to a court filing made public Monday, an investigation in the case "shows that the same hiring, personnel and company policies that applied to Searchlight interns applied to all interns who participated in FEG's internship program."
The plaintiffs point to 20th Century Fox, among other FEG business units, saying that until July 2010, interns hired to work there were not paid, even though they were required to fill out I-9 forms, sign confidentiality agreements and were deemed "employees" covered under workers' compensation laws.
Previously, Fox had blamed "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky and his production company, alleging that the interns in question didn't even really work for Fox Searchlight.
Fox changed its policy in 2010 and began paying interns $8 an hour.
The entertainment arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. empire isn't the only media giant to face legal threats from former interns. Xueden "Diana" Wang recently sued Hearst over unpaid labor she contributed to Harper's Bazaar. Wang told of working 40 to 55-hour weeks in the magazine's accessories department, supervising other unpaid employees who served as messengers for the company.
"We were completely overworked," Wang told The Huffington Post in February. "It was an outrageous burden for a bunch of interns."
In a story on Wang's case, HuffPost Business summarized new Department of Labor guidelines as erring on the side of caution when it comes to exploiting unsuspecting students or young people:
Internships, according to the guidelines, must be similar to "educational" training, must provide no "immediate advantage" to employers and must not displace regular salaried employees. If internships fail to meet these requirements, they are considered work, and subject to regulations like minimum wage.
In March, Lucy Bickerton sued Charlie Rose and the production company responsible for his eponymous program over unpaid labor from interns.
For more on the Fox case, head over to THR.
Other media lawsuits: