California Labor Lawsuits Expose Seedier Side of Hollywood
One lawsuit was filed against CBS Studios and one of its employees - a set designer - alleging the set designer offered a woman a job for $10,000 a month if she would have sex with him and give him her pay from her first month of work. After the woman agreed, and carried out her part of the agreement, she alleges he harassed her. According to Courthouse News Service (7/2/13), the victim alleged she was threatened with termination unless she agreed to be the man's girlfriend and she was sent inappropriate text messages.
The lawsuit alleges the man’s bosses knew about the behavior but did nothing to stop it. When the victim continued to refuse the man’s advances, he reportedly threatened to blackball her and defamed her. The lawsuit seeks damages for sexual harassment and retaliation.
Meanwhile, two interns who filed a lawsuit against Fox Entertainment Group were given a summary judgment victory. The Hollywood Reporter (6/11/13) writes that a judge found that Fox Searchlight was the interns’ employer, against Fox’s argument that a production company - and not Fox - was in fact responsible for the employees. The judge found that the two interns were employees and not interns.
The judge also certified a class action to examine internships at Fox. Fox has said it intends to appeal the ruling, but more lawsuits are being brought forward against the company, alleging unpaid interns should be paid for the work they are doing, and failure to pay is a violation of California labor law and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The findings from this lawsuit could set a precedent for other unpaid internship claims in Hollywood.