Gossip behemoth Gawker Media is the target of a class-action lawsuit by a group of former interns who say they were not paid “a single cent” while working for the New York-based company, Bloomberg News reported. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) on Friday, alleges the three plaintiffs each spent between 15 and 25 hours a week researching and writing blogs, as well as promoting the company’s work via social-media outlets.
“Gawker employs numerous other ‘interns’ in the same way, paying them nothing or underpaying them and utilizing their services to publish its content on the Internet, an enterprise that generates significant amounts of revenue for Gawker,” reads the complaint, which was obtained by Bloomberg.
Gawker Media founder and owner Nick Denton is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The attorney representing the plaintiffs, Andrea M. Paparella, told Bloomberg the complaint was filed to protect entry-level positions and the standard minimum wage, all of which are under fire due to the prevalence of unpaid internships.
“We don’t want to replace entry-level jobs with interns who aren’t being paid,” Paparella told TheWrap. “Not everybody can afford to take an unpaid job when they graduate college. And they could be shut out of certain industries if this was a norm of having certain industries having unpaid internship programs.” Paparella added: “Minimum-wage law says, even if a person agrees to it, you can't pay them less than minimum wage. Imagine what the implications would be. It would make minimum wage meaningless.”
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As the Hollywood Reporter noted, this latest lawsuit comes on the heels of news that a U.S. district judge in New York ruled in favor of two interns, Alex Footman and Eric Glatt, who sued the Fox Searchlight unit of the News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA), claiming its unpaid-internship program violated labor laws.
Other companies are also feeling the heat. Recently, the Conde Nast unit of the privately held Advance Publications and the privately held Warner Music Group were both slapped with class-action lawsuits related to unpaid internships, as reported by TheWrap and the Hollywood Reporter, respectively.
Gawker Media has not yet commented on the lawsuit.