By now, many studio owners have probably heard about the rise of class action lawsuits against businesses that rely on illegal unpaid internships.
In late 2012, Charlie Rose’s for-profit production company was the first to settle such a claim, paying out $250,000 in back minimum wages that it had failed to pay its entry-level workers. Just last week, Fox Searchlight Pictures suffered a resounding loss in the first of these new lawsuits to make it all the way to trial.
This Monday, a former Atlantic Records intern brought suit against the Warner Music Group, making them the first major music company on the chopping block. Their name has been added to a growing list of defendants that includes prestigious publishers like Condé Nast and Harpers.
These cases are not unique to big businesses. I’ve even heard from a former intern who took a small recording studio to the labor board in California and won the case soundly. That decision is currently in appeals, but it doesn’t look good for the studio owner.
If you haven’t looked into the practices at your studio, it’s time to do so now. This week, we’ll look at what separates a legal internship from an illegal one, and how to make sure your studio stays out of the crosshairs.