A former unpaid intern for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ record label Bad Boy Entertainment has filed a minimum wage class action lawsuit against the company. The suit continues the recent trend of class actions brought by unpaid interns under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
As a general rule, for-profit companies are required to comply with the FLSA’s minimum wage law for “unpaid” interns, unless the internship satisfies the Department of Labor’s six-factor test for an exception to that general rule. The test essentially focuses on whether the internship looks more like an educational opportunity for the interns or free labor for the employer.
In June we wrote on this blog about a Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on the movie Black Swan. That case is part of a growing trend. A number of similar class action lawsuits have been recently filed against companies by their unpaid interns. In the past two months alone, Conde Nast magazine and broadcaster NBC have been on the receiving end such lawsuits.
Now Diddy (formerly “Puffy,” “Puff Daddy,” “P. Diddy,” etc.) and Bad Boy Entertainment have been sued as well. According to the lawsuit, the interns spent their time getting lunch and coffee for paid staffers, answering phones, gift wrapping presents, and decorating offices. Whether the lawsuit will be successful is still unclear. What is clear is that the stakes for companies in FLSA class actions are high: the Bad Boy Entertainment lawsuit alone alleges over 500 former interns are due unpaid wages. Depending on the company, the class sizes in these cases can be much bigger than that. As a result, the damages can easily reach the millions.
The legal community will be watching these cases as they continue to develop. Although the Summer internship season is coming to an end, the fallout from many of those internships is just heating up.