July 31, 2012 10:41am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Attack of the Show' Employees Attack NBCU for Overtime Wages
Three current and former employees of G4's Attack of the Show are suing the network and parent company NBCUniversal for allegedly attempting to improperly classify them as "exempt" from laws governing overtime compensation. Sean Jordan, Bruce Greene and Yaniv Fituci filed a proposed class action on behalf of themselves and other line and field producers in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.
The plaintiffs say they have complained to network management about being "woefully understaffed," and that as a result of staff shortages, they could only complete their work by working more than 40 hours per week. In fact, the plaintiffs in this case say they regularly worked 50-70 hours per week and dealt with the network's financial frugalness by doing things like driving home 120 miles in lieu of staying at a hotel.
If they were paid overtime, they'd be paid their salary at a rate 1.5 times their usual wage for the extra hours, but they weren't because the defendants allegedly classified them as "exempt employees," a oft-point of contention for certain guilds in Hollywood.
There's a whole list of exemptions from overtime rules, and the plaintiffs say they fit none of the categories. They say they didn't direct others, didn't have authority to hire or fire and didn't have management duties, among other things.
Maybe more interesting is whether line producers fit the definition of the "learned and artistic" professional exemption. Generally that means work that is original and creative in character in a recognized field of artistic endeavor. In the past, television news producers have been found to be non-exempt, and here, in the interest of gaining overtime pay, the plaintiffs somewhat undercut their own work by saying they "worked within a well-defined framework of management policies, which depended primarily on skill and experience of employees rather than creativity, invention or originality."
They are suing for the defendant's alleged failure to pay overtime wages, failure to pay meal and rest time compensation, other labor code violations, and unfair business practices.
G4 couldn't be reached for comment.
E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner