That’s the central allegation in a class action suit filed today at the New York State Supreme Court. Former intern Lucy Bickerton — who worked at PBS‘ The Charlie Rose Show in summer 2007 — says the program “operates on an annual budget of approximately $3.5 million, which is low for a television program airing five nights per week.” Interns allegedly pick up the slack. They “perform background research from print and online sources to prepare Mr. Rose for guest interviews, escort guests through the studio and set, and break down the set and clean up the ‘green room’ ” after tapings. The problem: Under New York law, the suit says, “an unpaid internship is only lawful in the context of an educational training program, when the interns do not perform productive work and the employer derives no benefit.” But the suit says that Rose “did not provide academic or vocational training” to interns including Bickerton, who’s said to have regularly worked two to three days a week for a total of about 25 hours a week. As a result, Rose “denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees, including unemployment, workers’ compensation insurance, social security contributions, and, crucially, the right to earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” The suit wants the court to stop Rose from continuing to depend on interns. In addition, it seeks unpaid minimum wages for all of his interns “in an amount that cannot currently be ascertained but that readily exceeds $150,000.” Rose’s lawyer told The New York Times, which first reported the story, that “we are confident that Charlie Rose Inc.’s employment practices are appropriate.”
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