UPDATED with a statement from Original Media
The television production company behind such reality TV shows as Swamp People and Miami Ink agreed to pay $282,000 in uncompensated overtime as part of a settlement agreement reached with New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood.
The attorney general’s investigation that Original Media had misclassified employees, including production assistants and associate producers, as exempt from overtime pay. As a result, many workers who were entitled to overtime never received it.
The probe revealed that these production assistants and associate producers regularly worked at least 50 hours per week — and sometimes as many as 80 hours per week — without collecting overtime. Truly Original, the new entity formed in a merger of Original Media and True Entertainment, agreed to make restitution.
Truly Original issued a statement saying it was pleased to have settled the case, which pertains to Original Media, a company that no longer exists and that was run by a former management team.
“Truly Original will continue to compensate our employees fairly and competitively, and comply with all applicable federal and state laws,” the company said in a statement.
The settlement is a signal that the state’s new attorney general will continue to enforce overtime laws in the television production industry.
Today’s settlement follows a $411,000 settlement with True Entertainment (producer of Real Housewives of Atlanta), now part of Truly Original, and a $226,000 settlement with Sharp Entertainment, which produces Man v. Food.
In total, the Attorney General has won back $919,000 for television production workers — part of over $30 million recovered for more than 21,000 workers since 2012 in wage theft cases.
Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, issued a statement applauding the settlement.
“Writer-producers working together, combined with vigorous law enforcement by the AG, are sending a powerful message to nonfiction TV production companies: wage theft is not the way to do business,” Peterson said.