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Pointing out that its former interns weren’t exactly prolific, Gawker is now asking a judge to reject a class action lawsuit over its unpaid internships.
On Friday, the media company filed a motion for summary judgment to end a legal battle being led by former Kotaku intern Aulister Mark and former io9 intern Andrew Hudson. The bid to wrap up the case comes on the heels of a decision in early July by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellate opinion articulated the broad analysis that should be applied in determining whether an internship might be unpaid. “The proper question is whether the intern or the employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship,” wrote Second Circuit judge John Walker.
In its summary judgment motion (read in full here), Gawker believes that all but one of the plaintiffs are barred from suing by a 3-year statute of limitations and also raises an issue with respects to a waiver agreement that Mark had signed before becoming an intern. If those arguments fail, Gawker also believes it is on the proper side of the beneficiary scale.
Mark “gained much for himself but contributed little to Gawker, writing one substantial piece over the course of several weeks that a Gawker employee would have written in a day or two,” states a Gawker memo.
And what exactly did Mark gain during his time at Gawker?
College credit, for starters. Mark was studying toward a degree in journalism at The New School, Eugene Lang College.
Gawker also points to Mark’s testimony in a deposition and school evaluations that he gained the ability to work in a “fast-paced environment” and the ability to “fine tune [his] writing style to the progressive world of blogging.”
As for copy-editing, which Mark did during his time at Gawker in the summer of 2010, the media company argues that it was hardly the beneficiary of such work. The copy-editing, Gawker says, “did not displace paid employees’ work because if the interns had not done that work, no one would have.”
Gawker provides similar analysis on Hudson, saying that in the summer internship of 2008, the plaintiff only “published two articles over the course of his nine-week internship, whereas io9 was publishing, on average, ‘a dozen or several dozen’ posts every day.”
“It would contravene the meaning of Glatt to allow this claim to go to a jury,” Gawker tells the judge. “Hudson’s internship embodied the ‘purpose’ of unpaid internships to integrate classroom work in the real world.”
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