Fox Searchlight and the Fox Entertainment Group got some speedy justice today in the ongoing Black Swan intern case. Less than two weeks after requesting formal permission from a federal judge for an “immediate appeal” to his potentially industry game changing June 11 ruling that unpaid interns on the 2010 Darren Aronofsky-directed film were really employees, Fox got the green light Wednesday. Judge William Paley III made the certification decision in a case conference in federal court in NYC today. The matter now heads to the Second Circuit for “much-needed guidance”, as Fox said in its August 23 filing, on what the legal standard for determining if an intern is actually an employee and entitled to wages under the Federal Labor Standards Act. What the Appeals Court decides could potentially dampen the bubbling class action. Having said that, today’s decision is the second incremental win for Fox in as many weeks. On August 26, Judge Paley granted the Fox companies’ June 25 request to limit the time period in which potential class action participants can be considered qualified to join the suit.
Primary plaintiffs Alex Footman and Eric Glatt first launched their civil action case back in September 2011 on behalf of themselves and more than 100 Fox Searchlight interns. Since Paley’s June 11 ruling, a series of suits against NBCU, Conde Nast and Warner Music have also hit the courts as other interns now are claiming that they too were essentially performing employee duties for no money. Hearst Corp is also weaving through the legal system with an intern lawsuit of its own that has become a factor in the Black Swan case as guidance and definitions are sought by the defendants. Fox Searchlight and Fox Entertainment Group are represented by Elise Bloom and Amy Melican of NYC firm Proskauer Rose LLP. Adam Klein, Rachel Bien and Elizabeth Wagoner of Outten & Golden LLP are representing the Black Swan interns.