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Production assistants undergo harsh work conditions, lawsuit says

When someone tries to get their foot in the door in the movie industry, it can be a rough start. The jobs available often involve long hours and very little pay. While this may be worth it for those who want to work in the industry, it’s also important to remember that there are specific employment laws that must be followed by employers. Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of newcomers’ excitement about working in the industry and force them to work under circumstances that are sometimes quite awful.

A recent case against Paramount Pictures and various production companies highlights this troublesome trend. The lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan court (since Paramount Pictures is owned by New York-based Viacom Inc.) on behalf of four production assistants. The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, claims the employees worked 60 to 100 hours a week routinely. They were paid $140 to $160 for every 12-hour shift but were never paid overtime compensation.

To make matters worse, the lawsuit claims the workers weren’t allowed to use the bathroom or to take breaks for meals. Because of this, the employees had to use bottles and buckets in their vehicles as bathrooms. These production assistants worked on big projects such as “Noah” and “The Wolf on Wall Street.”

While it can be extremely hard to wrap our heads around these types of conditions, it is definitely not unheard of. It may be a difficult decision to stand up against a media giant, especially if it means potentially not making it into the film industry, but the risk is often worth it. Not only might it protect the employees involved, but it may help other current and future production assistants who are forced to suffer through similar work conditions.

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