Former intern Anthony Tart says he and others were made to work like full-time employees on the syndicated Wendy Williams daytime talk show and now he wants Lionsgate and producers Debmar-Mercury to pay up. “Upon information and belief, beginning in or around September 2008, the Defendants maintained a common policy and practice of employing interns on The Wendy Williams Show without compensating them for the work that they performed,” says the potential class action filed late last week in federal court in New York.
“Named Plaintiff Tart was hired by Defendants in or about August 2012 and performed various tasks including, but not limited to, washing dishes, getting coffee, picking up art supplies, stocking printers, throwing out garbage, and creating a tape library,” adds the latest media industry legal action (read it here) brought by former interns. The 12-page compliant also notes how show interns were provided zero “educational or vocational training”while doing work that full-time employees should have been hired to do. The complaint says this was part of a “corporate policy or practice of minimizing labor costs.”
Claiming to represent over 100 TWWS interns for violations of violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York’s Minimum Wage Law and Wage Theft Law, Tart’s complaint seeks “an amount to be determined at trial, in the amount equal to the amount of unpaid wages, liquidated damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs.” Tart was at TWWS two full days a week from August to December 2012.
A spokesperson for TWWS distributor Lionsgate had no comment on the suit. The talker starring the radio personality and VH1 star debuted in 2008. Last year, Fox renewed The Wendy Williams Show on its stations until the 2016-2017 season. Fox is not named as a defendant in the complaint.
Whether this complaint heads to mediation like the ongoing battle between ICM Partners and two former interns, is quickly retracted as the short lived-suit against CBS and David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants was, or drags out in the courts like the groundbreaking ongoing class action by ex-Black Swan interns against Fox Searchlight remains be seen. What is for sure is that this is not the last such suit to be filed, of which the entertainment industry is fearfully aware.
Alison Genova, LaDonna Lusher and Lloyd Ambinder of NYC firm Virgina & Ambinder LLP are representing Tart, as are Jeffrey Brown and Daniel Markowitz of Leeds Brown Law PC. The firms were also the reps in the Letterman suit, which the plaintiff said that “lawsuit hungry” lawyers talked her into.