Here we go again. Another former intern for the entertainment industry is suing over the concept of internship vs. free labor. This time the defendant is MGM, which is on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit filed today. Kimi Gupta interned at the Beverly Hills offices of MGM HD, the studio’s cable network, in 2012. The kicker here is Gupta’s internship has to be among the shortest of any plaintiff in any of the myriad intern lawsuits — 15 days, of which only five appear to be workdays. Add this one to the list of intern lawsuits against the likes of NBCUniversal, Viacom, CBS and Fox Searchlight.
The 22-page new complaint filed in Los Angeles (read it here) alleges that MGM interns served as unpaid employees and were told “there was always a chance of getting hired” if they worked for free for a while.
“In their operations, Defendants systematically employed unpaid interns, including students such as Plaintiff, and recent and not too recent college graduates, without pay to perform various scheduling tasks,” the suit claims. Those tasks included scheduling “of television programs for airing, maintaining records of scheduled programs, tracking programs which were ready to be aired, and entering program and scheduling information into Defendants’ computer data-base.”
It adds: “Uncompensated interns such as Plaintiff were an important source of labor on Defendants’ operations and performed important tasks for Defendants. Use of such labor allowed Defendants to avoid payment of employment and other taxes, and gave Defendants an unfair advantage over those who fairly compensated their employees. All of the work performed by Plaintiff and other interns was performed for the immediate advantage of Defendants and was performed at the expense of employees or interns who otherwise would have been compensated by Defendants pursuant to applicable laws.”
The suit claims that MGM terminated Gupta’s internship ”because she allegedly made ‘mistakes’ on an examination but gave Plaintiff no feedback or input as to the nature of the mistakes, further demonstrating that the purpose for employing Plaintiff was primarily to provide Defendants with an immediate advantage rather than to furnish training or educational experience for Plaintiff and other interns.”
MGM had no comment on the suit, which alleges failure to pay minimum wage and failure to pay compensation at time of termination. It seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages. Also named as defendants are MGM HD Productions and parent company MGM Holdings Inc. Gupta’s attorneys are John P. Kristensen and David L. Weisberg of Los Angeles and Michael V. Pundeff of San Diego.
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