Judge Poised to Approve NBCU's $6.4 Million Settlement With Interns

Issue 38 BIZ Interns Illustration - H 2012

Issue 38 BIZ Interns Illustration - H 2012

NBCUniversal has gotten preliminary approval from a judge overseeing a class action brought by former interns. On Monday, U.S. magistrate judge Ronald Ellis signed off on the $6.4 million deal that was filed in October.

The lawsuit was brought in in July 2013 and is among many that target entertainment and media organizations for allegedly violating labor laws through an unpaid internship program. NBCU is now paying interns, and by agreeing to pay $6.4 million to its former interns, the company will be making the largest ever payout to resolve internship litigation. The order granting preliminary approval calls it "fair, reasonable and adequate."

The settlement came as Fox prepares to challenge whether it is really the "employer" of two former interns who had worked on the film Black Swan. That battle will take place at the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal judge in that dispute declared the plaintiffs the winner on summary judgment.

According to the terms of the NBCU settlement, the average settlement payment is estimated to be $505 to those interning at NBCU in New York since July 3, 2007, those interning at the company in California since Feb. 4, 2010, and those interning at the company in other states since Feb. 4, 2011. Former interns covered by the class will have to opt out if they wish to preserve any claims.

A hearing to consider final approval has been set for May 4, 2015. The hearing will focus on the overall fairness of the settlement and fix the amount of attorney's fees and costs to Outten & Golden, which represented the plaintiffs. Payments to class reps like former Saturday Night Live intern Monet Eliastam will also be considered.

Former NBCU interns can probably expect notice of the settlement from the lawyers.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner