8:08am PT by Eriq Gardner
ICM Partners Settles Lawsuit Over Unpaid Interns (Exclusive)
The wave of lawsuits claiming labor violations over unpaid internship programs has hit a new phase, with several organizations hoping to move forward by resolving class actions. The latest settlement comes between ICM Partners and the talent agency's former interns. On Tuesday, in New York federal court, the parties announced they had reached the key terms of a deal.
This one, while perhaps not as trail-blazing as the lawsuit filed against Fox that is going up on appeal nor as big as the one against NBCUniversal that resulted in a $6.4 million settlement, was nevertheless an important and closely watched affair thanks to the long tradition of interns breaking into the entertainment industry through a prestigious agency.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit was Kimberly Behzadi, who worked at ICM in early 2012. After she filed her claim, she was joined by Jason Rindenau, who was at ICM in 2011. During their internships, they did a range of duties including "script coverage," the process of reading scripts and summarizing them, as well as administrative work ranging from doing agents' expenses to maintaining a calendar of comedy events for agents. The plaintiffs asserted that they were basically unpaid assistants and that their work violated minimum wage laws.
In battling the legal claims, ICM attempted a new argument on the internship front — that the claims were covered by an agreement to arbitrate. In turn, the interns submitted a motion for class certification.
A judge never addressed these issues because the parties engaged in private mediation earlier this month. The result is the proposed settlement, which will need to be approved by the judge. No terms have yet been revealed, but that should be coming shortly as the parties tell the judge in a letter that they intend to submit the settlement deal soon. The Hollywood Reporter will update this post when that happens.
The plaintiffs were represented by the firm of Outten & Golden while ICM's defense was handled by attorneys at Proskauer Rose.