ICM Partners might be happy to hear today that they are not the latest industry enterprise to be hit with an interns lawsuit, but it’s a good bet CBS and The Late Show With David Letterman are not. The network and the late-night show have been walloped with a class action of their own: Late last week, Mallory Musallam filed a class action complaint against CBS Broadcasting, CBS Corp. and the retiring late-night host’s Worldwide Pants on behalf herself and everyone who has ever been an intern on the show. “Named Plaintiff has initiated this action seeking for herself, and on behalf of all similarly situated employees that also worked on The Late Show With David Letterman, all compensation, including minimum wages and overtime compensation, which they were deprived of, plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs,” says the jury demanding filing in New York Supreme Court (read it here). The filing comes as ICM Partners fights to shut down a potentially sprawling complaint from ex-interns.
(UPDATE, 10:36 AM: CBS have come out defending their intern programs and say they “intend to vigorously defend against the claims” in Musallam’s complaint. “This lawsuit is part of a nationwide trend of class action lawyers attacking internship opportunities provided by companies in the media and entertainment industry,” said the network Monday in a statement. “We pride ourselves on providing valuable internship experiences, and we take seriously all of our obligations under relevant labor and employment laws. We intend to vigorously defend against the claims.”)
Claiming that the production company and CBS intentionally wrongfully classified the interns that work on the show, Musallam claims their actions were and are a violation of New York State labor law. Musallam was an intern at Late Show from September-December 2008. While citing different statutes, Musallam’s action is similar in tone and allegations to past intern legal moves that have hit the media and entertainment industry since the potentially game-changing June 11, 2013 ruling that unpaid interns on the Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan were actually employees. Earlier this year, former ICM Partners interns Kimberly Behzadi and Jason Rindenau struck the agency with a class action of their own. Late last week, ICM lawyers filed a motion to have the action dismissed.
“Named Plaintiff performed various tasks, including, but not limited to, research for interview material, deliver film clips from libraries, running errands, faxing, scanning, operating the switchboard, and other similar duties,” claims the complaint against CBS and Letterman. Musallam’s attorneys allege that she worked a 40-hour week like a full-time employee and did not receive any “academic or vocational training” while atLate Show. In fact, they say that was the point, so the production company could keep its payroll expenses down. “Upon information and belief, Defendants would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the Named Plaintiff and the putative class members not performed work for Defendants,” the 14-page filing adds.
Related: NBCU Hit With Intern Lawsuit
Lloyd Ambinder, LaDonna Lusher and Jack Newhouse of NYC firm Virginia & Ambinder LLP along with Jeffrey Brown, Daniel Markowitz and Michael Tompkins of Carle Place-based Leeds Brown Law P.C. are repping Musallam.