Category: Fair Labor Standards Act

Live From New York It’s…$6.4 Million

Class actions law suits aimed to recover unpaid wages for volunteer intern shave been all the rage the last several years. Some have reached settlements, while others are still being fought tooth and nail. NBCUniversal, was largely hit by former interns who worked in their New York and Los Angeles studios. Pending court approval, NBC has agree to pay a $6.4 million settlement to be split among these unpaid workers.

Unpaid internships have been a staple in many creative industries. It allowed the entertainment and fashion industries (to name a couple) to maintain low overhead costs while students gained real life, valuable work experience. If and when the $6.4 million figure is approved, it will be the largest settlement for interns in the entertainment industry. Interns worked on sets for NBC, like on Saturday Night Live.

Interns involved in the infamous/famous lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures, specifically for work done on the film “Black Swan”, are hopeful that the NBC legal proceeding will establish the “merit” and “solid ground” of their own suit.

“I think that sends a very clear message to other media companies—and any large employer who has taken advantage of unpaid intern labor—that they should take this issue very, very seriously,” said lead plaintiff Eric Glatt about the Black Swan lawsuit.

Ross Perlin, writer of “Intern Nation” estimates that companies save upwards of $2 billion in labor costs by using unpaid interns.


Source: LA Times

Another Celebrity Chef Cooks Up a Lawsuit

Celebrity chef David Burke, who is most famous for appearing on Iron Chef America, has been served with an employee lawsuit. Burke is not the first celebrity chef to be sued by a former employee, nor will he be the last. This suit is unique, however, since it seems Burke may have blatantly violated federal labor laws.

More often than not, when a celebrity is sued or does the suing, there are bizarre allegations that connect obscure statutes to a possible violation (see our lawsuit against Beyonce here . This suit seems pretty clear cut.

Former employee, Ibrahima Kaba from the Bronx, worked at David Burke’s “David Burke Townhouse” restaurant since June of 2012. Kaba, a Muslim, disclosed to management upon employment that he could not work Fridays because he needed to conduct his Friday prayers. Management, allegedly, said that would not be an issue.

Within weeks of employment, Kaba was scheduled to work the Fridays he had previously requested off. So, instead of trying to take the whole day off, Kaba requested to take a long break so he could attend his Friday prayers. The manager refused to allow him to leave and was terminated two months later. According to the complaint, Kaba also observed other Muslim employees being “denied the right to attend the Friday noon prayer…even when they express the need to do so.”

The suit states Burke’s businesses “subject [Muslims workers] to discrimination on the basis of their religion.” Said employees are “retaliated against” for attempting to practice. Burke’s other restaurants and ventures, including Bloomingdale’s, were also mentioned in the suit.

Source: NY Post

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Raiderettes-1; Raiders-0

We have been closely following the story of former Raiderette, Lacy T., the cheerleader who dared sue the Bay Area’s beloved team. Now, Lacy T. has trail blazed the way to fair wages for NFL cheerleaders…at least in California.

At the beginning of the year, an initial wage and hour case for a proposed class action as filed in Alameda Superior Court. Seven months after the suit was filed, the Raiders revamped their contracts for the incoming 2014-2015 squad. As a result, Raiderettes would be paid a minimum wage of $9 per hour in accordance to CA Labor Law, plus overtime. They will be compensated for mandatory community events, rehearsals, and any other Raiderettes related gigs.

Additionally, the women will be reimbursed for necessary business expenses rather than paying out of pocket for mandatory services (i.e. hair a certain color, cut, etc.). The Raiderette’s supervisory team can no longer deduct wages from the cheerleaders for rule violations like bringing the wrong pom-poms to practice. To top it all off, the Raiderettes can now receive 10 minutes breaks at games.

The suit has settled for the class representatives, class members, and attorneys for $1.25 million to be split between the respective participants.

Source: LA Times

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Sophie the Employment and Labor Robot

The poster girl for the future isn’t a high profile model or an Oscar award winning actress. She isn’t an activist or a touring musician. She isn’t even human. Meet Sophie and her crew, robots who are being designed to enter the work force and prevent any unlawful violations of the labor code that a human might accidentally do.

La Trobe Business University Business School in Melbourne Australia and Japan based NEC Corporation first broke this story over a year ago about Sophie. Sophie and her robot friends Charles, Matilda, Betty, and Jack are being trained and created to conduct workplace interviews and will replace common Human Resource employees.

Sophie is designed to perform within the confines of the law and not ask any questions that may be conceived as discriminatory or unlawful. At the same time, she can read an interviewee’s emotional reactions to questions and their own answers by monitoring change  in facial expressions or pulse.

The university assures that Sophie will not replace humans entirely in the interviewing process, as companies are encouraged to maintain human interviews for later stages in the hiring process and for the hiring decision.

The issue in California is that Sophie’s ability to read someone’s physical reaction to emotion responses may be construed as an unlawful lie detector test. Also, in California, there is a two-party consent law for audio/voice recording. How will we get around that with Sophie?

Who knows what the frontier of labor law has in store since robots are now a part of it.

Source: California Lawyer Magazine

Collaboration of the U.S. & Mexico to Protect Migrant Workers

The U.S. Secretary of the Department of Labor and the Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare of Mexico agreed that both nations will mutually work to promote labor law compliance in both countries.

In an agreement signed on April 3, 2014, migrant workers are the focus of the international collaboration. Both governments have committed themselves to increasing labor opportunities and improving standards of work/living for workers. The U.S. and Mexico will jointly establish training and informational programs that will elevate migrant workers’ and employers’ understanding of labor rights and responsibilities.

These informational workshops will be conducted in both English and Spanish to reflect the two countries involved and will involve collaboration with U.S. Wage and Hour Division, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Labor Relations Board, and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), along with other agencies from Mexico.