A class action lawsuit has been filed by an unpaid intern with CBS "Late Show With David Letterman" on behalf of unpaid interns employed by the company over six years. The plaintiff alleges that the companies minimized labor costs by giving work to unpaid interns that would have otherwise gone to paid employees. The lawsuit claims that CBS and Letterman's production company violated overtime and minimum wage laws. It seeks back pay, overtime pay, interest and attorney fees.
The plaintiff was an intern between the months of September and December 2008. She said in a statement that she worked more than 40 hours a week for neither pay nor vocational training. Her tasks included jobs like research, film clip retrieval, operating the switchboard, faxing, scanning and running various errands. These tasks should have been compensated, she alleges, especially because she worked overtime while accomplishing those duties.
CBS intends to mount a defense against the allegations. The media company notes that it is part of a nationwide trend, and indeed, there have been several instances of interns seeking to achieve compensation for the work that they have done. Other recent instances include a class action lawsuit filed by former interns working with the production team of Fox Searchlight on the film "Black Swan" as well as lawsuits from interns at Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group, Hearst Corp and Conde Nast.
Lawsuits by unpaid interns are on the rise as more individuals become aware of their rights under labor laws. An employment law attorney may be able to assist unpaid interns in making sure that their rights are protected. Interns who perform duties that paid workers would otherwise perform may be entitled to back pay, especially if they are expected to work overtime. An employment law attorney may provide legal counsel, assist with litigation paperwork and represent interns in a court of law.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "CBS sued over unpaid internships at 'Late Show With David Letterman'", Lauren Raab, September 08, 2014