Comcast gets slapped with intern lawsuit

The media giant is the latest in its industry to get accused of taking unfair advantage of unpaid labor.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 5, 2013 11:20AM
File photo of the Comcast logo on a television screen (© Elise Amendola/AP Photo)When Jesse Moore and Monet Eliastam got hired as interns by Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal, they probably hoped their positions would get their careers started on the right foot. Instead, they got an education on how companies use unpaid interns to do the work of entry-level workers.

Moore, who worked in MSNBC's bookings department in 2011, and Eliastam, who worked for "Saturday Night Live" in 2012, are the lead plaintiffs in a proposed class action against the Philadelphia-based media giant that accuses it of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State labor laws, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The suit seeks back pay for the hours worked along with overtime.

NBCUniversal certainly benefited from Moore, who booked guests and researched stories, and Eliastam, who processed paperwork for extras and helped disperse petty cash, the trade publication says. Moore regularly worked 24 hours or more per week, while Eliastam worked 25 hours per week. Internships, though, are supposed to be for the benefit of the intern and aren't supposed to displace regular workers.

Outten and Golden, the law firm that's representing the two former interns, has filed similar suits against "The Charlie Rose Show," Condé Nast, Hearst and Twenty-First Century Fox's (FOXA) Fox Searchlight Pictures, according to Advertising Age. Gawker, the network of gossip sites, has also been sued.

A judge has recently ruled in favor of the interns who worked at Fox Searchlight, and more cases are expected to come.

"Employers' failure to compensate interns for all their work, and the prevalence of that practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment," the lawsuit says.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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6Comments
Jul 5, 2013 1:08PM
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When companies use interns to replace what would normally be the job of workers they are violated the law as it is written. Comcast clearly violated the law and should have to pay not only back wages but a significant fine to prevent them from doing this in the future. Good luck to the people who will have to fight against Comcast's army of lawyers.
Jul 8, 2013 2:28PM
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when they hired on they new it was temp work. and now they want something for nothing. What was the pay? per hour?

temp work is filling in where you are needed.

 

Jul 5, 2013 3:02PM
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   We don't the details here so I can't speak to this case however unpaid internships are common and a good opportunity for students to expand there education as is there purpose. Many of these students are sandbaggers and not worth the companies time. Others are found productive and end up working for the company they interned with.                                                                                                                         My son's wife volunteered internship at Horizon Air, a division of Alaska, for a month or two while going to collage, been working for the company for over 15 years now. Turned out to be a good thing. She is a hard worker and smart. That does make a difference. Some students are looking for education expansion and job opportunities other are looking for handouts. That's how many got in collage to start with so that's what they expect.
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