Gawker Media and founder Nick Denton were slapped with a lawsuit this week from three former workers who allege that the company classified them as interns in order to avoid paying wages, thereby violating federal law.
The New York Post reports that the former interns suing Gawker filed a fair-labor suit in a Manhattan federal district court Friday, seeking remuneration for unpaid wages along with damages. The three plaintiffs have been identified as Aulistar Mark, Andrew Hudson and Hanchen Lu.
“Gawker employs numerous other ‘interns’ in the same way, paying them nothing or underpaying them and utilizing their services to publish its content on the Internet, an enterprise that generates significant amounts of revenue for Gawker,” the plaintiffs wrote in the complaint which was filed on behalf of all unpaid interns who have worked for the media company, according to Bloomberg.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, internships must meet several criteria -- such as the experience must benefit the intern and the employer derives no immediate advantage from the work provided -- in order to classify as an unpaid training program.
Earlier this month, legal experts said that these unpaid intern lawsuits are likely to increase and expand to other industries, which would force employers to reevaluate the intern pay issue.
The prediction came on the heels of a judge's ruling that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated both federal and New York state minimum wage laws by not paying production interns who worked on the 2010 film "Black Swan." The federal district court judge held that the film company should have paid the two interns since they did the work of regular employees, also noting that the studio did not foster an educational atmosphere.
Another such lawsuit filed against Condé Nast on June 13 claims that W Magazine paid a former intern less than $1 per hour.
Gawker has not released an official statement about the claims made by the former unpaid interns, but told The Hollywood Reporter that it has yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit.