MGM Settles Class Action Over Unpaid Internships

The studio becomes the latest in entertainment and media to resolve wage claims.

MGM has agreed to put up as much as $232,500 to settle a proposed class action over unpaid internships at the studio. The deal was submitted to a judge last week for approval.

Kimi Gupta, who spent less than three weeks interning at MGM in 2012, filed the lawsuit on behalf of herself and others similarly situated in April 2015 — around the time that Viacom, NBCU, Conde Nast and ICM were hammering their own settlement agreements to resolve legal disputes over internships.

Perhaps the feature that set Gupta's lawsuit apart from the others was its location. She brought her case in Los Angeles Superior Court over alleged violations of California labor law including failure to pay minimum wage, whereas many of the other internship lawsuits proceeded in New York federal court. As such, had Gupta's case proceeded further, a judge wouldn't have been beholden to the big ruling from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the case over unpaid internships at Fox.

During her short stint at MGM, Gupta alleged she was assigned entry-level work including maintaining records of television programs at the company's cable unit.

The proposed settlement covers others who participated in unpaid internships since April 30, 2011. In a memorandum in support of the settlement, the plaintiff's attorney Jahan Sagafi at Outten & Golden estimates 258 class members. That makes the $232,500 settlement about on par by the standards of prior litigation on the topic. (See Fox.) The deal allows the plaintiff's counsel to seek up to one-third of the settlement fund as attorney's fees, plus $10,000 in litigation costs, meaning that each class member would theoretically receive about $500 to resolve claims.

A judge is scheduled to consider the settlement at a hearing on Jan. 17. 

 

 

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