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Lawsuits by unpaid interns have become as trendy as kale salad and Taylor Swift’s bangs, particularly in the broadcast and entertainment industries.  For instance, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment (now iHeartMedia, Inc.), Fox Entertainment Group, Inc., Hearst Corporation, NBCUniversal, Inc., and International Creative Management Partners, LLC have all been hit with lawsuits by former unpaid interns claiming they were not paid minimum wage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  While unpaid internships in the coveted entertainment industry have long been popular among high school, college and graduate students as a means to gain valuable experience and “build” one’s resumé, the increasing volume of unpaid wage claims may make companies reluctant to use unpaid interns, perceiving them as a risk not worth taking.  However, that view might be short-sighted, because interns may be key to the future of a company.  If an internship is structured properly, both parties (the student and the company) can benefit, although the employer company may not receive an immediate advantage from the internship.  Companies often benefit from the energy and new and creative ideas of student interns and derive intangible satisfaction from helping to train the next generation of entertainment industry professionals.  Similarly, interns who complete the internship with a positive experience “spread the word” about the company’s virtues to other students, friends, family members and colleagues they encounter wherever they end up in their careers.

With high-profile deaths of iconic NFL players such as Junior Seau and Dave Duerson making headlines over the past couple years, the long-term health and well-being of NFL players has come to the forefront as the hot topic of the day.  Nowhere has this issue gained more notoriety and exposure than in the series of lawsuits filed against the NFL by retired players.

After three extensions and close to two months of negotiations, SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (“AMPTP”), a trade association of Hollywood’s largest production companies, reached a tentative deal on a new three year master contract covering film and television on Friday, July 4, 2014.  The negotiations were led by Carol Lombardini for AMPTP and David White for SAG-AFTRA and resulted in a new 2014 Producers-SAG-AFTRA Codified Basic Agreement and an industry-wide 2014 SAG-AFTRA Television Agreement (together, the “Agreement”).

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled on March 26, 2014 that Northwestern University football players who receive scholarships from the University are employees of the University and are eligible to unionize.

The NLRB cited several reasons for its decision, including that the University benefits from the players’ services through the compensation it receives for those services in the form of advertising, sponsorships, media buys, ticket sales, etc.  Additionally, it found that the University controls how and when the players perform their services and that these football players receive compensation for their services in the form of scholarships. The NLRB determined that football players receiving scholarships from the University are not “primarily students” and that their activities are rather economic ones that benefit the school.

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The Sports, Arts and Entertainment Group at Garvey Schubert Barer provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.
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