Judge Orders Company To Pay Back Interns Who Worked For Free

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Judge Orders Company To Pay Back Interns Who Worked For Free

In a precedent-setting case, a federal judge ruled that entirely unpaid internships for jobs that require real work are illegal. The case, which follows a failed class action suit by Hearst interns, began when two production assistant interns, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, worked on the Fox Searchlight production of Black Swan. The Oscar-winning film went on to make $300 million but neither Glatt nor Footman were paid a cent.

They claim was that their roles were essential -- drawing up purchase orders, making spreadsheets, running errands -- but not educationally beneficial. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lists six criteria that legitimize an unpaid internship including that the experience must educate the worker and be solely beneficial for them, that it should be part of a formal training program and that that it cannot replace a paid job.

"They worked as paid employees work, providing an immediate advantage to their employer and performing low-level tasks not requiring specialized training," Judge William Pauley said. Adding that this "will have a much broader impact in terms of making corporations reexamine their internship programs."

Fox is hoping to appeal the decision but will have to pay the duo minimum wage for their time spent.