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'Black Swan' Interns Win Labor Lawsuit, Fox Opened Up To Class Action Suit

Many young and talented people come to Hollywood every day to break into the business. For some, the route of intern seems like the most logical path. True, you put in some very long and hard hours, and because interns tend to be the very bottom of the food chain, they get work pushed off on them that even the PAs won’t do. For some, the sacrifice is not in vain, and although there are no guarantees, an internship could be the starting point of a long and successful career.

Interning is the essence of the old Hollywood adage of, “paying your dues”. As the theory states, the sacrifice they make today will help insure their access to the “keys to the kingdom” in the future.

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Many times not even recognized as employees, interns don’t enjoy the benefit of having a union to protect them against abuse or help guarantee, at the very least, a livable wage or any wage at all. Typically, interns have to take what they can get. This usually means access to craft services for lunch and dinner, if they’re lucky.

However, because of a couple of ‘whipper snappers’ at Fox, this scenario may now soon be classified as the so-called “Good Ol Days”. It seems a few interns who worked on Black Swan have won a major victory for industry interns everywhere. This has also opened up an avenue for another intern to head up a class action suit against Fox for its intern program.

Is it possible these upstarts have liberated thousands of unpaid interns from studio tyranny? Or, have they made it hard on the young and hungry who depended upon internships to provide a literal ‘drive on’ through the impenetrable gates of Fox and other major studios in the industry?

The Hollywoood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner breaks it all down:

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In a ruling that is likely to be scrutinized throughout Hollywood — and maybe corporate America at large — a federal judge on Tuesday handed a couple of the interns suing Fox Searchlight a victory on summary judgment and also certified a class action over the internship programs of Fox Entertainment Group.

The lawsuit was first brought in late 2011 by two interns — Alex Footman and Eric Glatt — who both worked on Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan and claimed that the company’s unpaid internship program violated minimum wage and overtime laws.

The lawsuit then got bigger, with amended claims brought by added named plainitffs such as Kanene Gratts, who worked on Searchlight’s 500 Days of Summer as well as Eden Antalik, who participated in the FEG internship program. To prevail, they would need to jump several hurdles, including showing that the training programs set up weren’t for the advantage of the trainees.

You can read all about it at The Hollywood Reporter. But what do you think? Are interns getting abused, or are they just getting unjust rewards?

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