“Paying to Learn Nothing = Legal; Paying Nothing to Learn = Illegal” [Andrew Coulson, Cato, contrasting internship ruling with the general lack of a legal or political remedy against educational institutions should you "go into serious debt [but] learn nothing of value”; more on the absence of “educational malpractice” relief; earlier here, etc.]
Unpaid internships have long been a path of opportunity for students and recent grads looking to get a foot in the door in the entertainment, publishing and other prominent industries, even if it takes a generous subsidy from Mom and Dad.
But those days of working for free could be numbered after a federal judge in New York ruled this week that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage and overtime laws by not paying interns who worked on production of the 2010 movie “Black Swan.”
More: Dylan Matthews, Washington Post, and earlier here, here, etc.
P.S. “There will still be one place to still get unpaid internships — Congress, since they exempt themselves from these laws.” [Coyote]
“Judges rejected a bid from unpaid bloggers at the Huffington Post to revive a lawsuit against AOL that contends the company should pay them a third of the $315 million it spent last year to buy the news site.” [Alexander Kaufman, The Wrap] “The problem with plaintiffs’ argument is that it has no basis,” observed the Second Circuit. [Politico, earlier here, here, etc.]
The California legislature this term chose to pass a raft of exceptionally bad legislation burdening business and employers, and Gov. Jerry Brown, perhaps mindful of the state’s ongoing poor economic performance, last week vetoed many of them [Ira Stoll, NY Sun; Steven Greenhut, City Journal] Among the vetoes: bills widening the rights of housekeepers’, babysitters’ and other domestic workers to sue their employers [earlier here, here]; greatly widening the survivors’ benefits paid for public safety workers [earlier, update]; unionizing grad student research assistants [Daily Californian] and an ostensible farmworker safety measure [Ruth Evans, Fresno Bee]
P.S. “Starts” isn’t really accurate, since, as David Boaz has pointed out, Gov. Brown cast some good vetoes last year.
Relating to not counting class members until they’re hatched: “Lawyer: 4 — not 3,000 — interns have joined class action suit against Hearst” [Andrew Beaujon, Poynter; Joe Lustig with more on court's greenlighting of Hearst intern suit; more, Amy Traub and Desiree Busching at Wage Hour Law; lawyers trying similar action against Fox]
Why “we recently were forced to institute an HR policy in California that working through lunch is a firing offense.” [Coyote]
At Fortune, Jonathan Segal (Duane Morris) covers an employment-law trend much documented in these columns, though the “civil rights” construct is a bit of a distraction: the intersection of entrepreneurial lawyers, high damage possibilities, uncertain legal standards and widespread real or apparent noncompliance is enough to propel the Fair Labor Standards Act into its current prominence without any need for a discrimination angle.
Jon Hyman is surprised the number isn’t 100 percent:
What’s amazing to me is that the percentage of non-compliant employers is only 71 percent. I remain convinced, as I’ve pointed out before, that I can walk into any company and find a wage and hour violation. The FLSA and its regulations are that complex, twisted, and anachronistic.