NBCU Settling Lawsuit With Former MSNBC and 'Saturday Night Live' Interns

Saturday Night Live SNL Seth MacFarlane - H 2012
Dana Edelson/NBC

Saturday Night Live SNL Seth MacFarlane - H 2012

As some companies like Fox and Lionsgate fight the issue of whether unpaid internships violate labor laws in court, at least one giant media company appears to putting the litigation to bed.

According to a letter that was filed by a lawyer representing former NBCUniversal interns, the parties will soon be submitting a motion for preliminary approval of the parties’ settlement.

The lawsuit was filed in July 2013 by a proposed class led by Jesse Moore, who says he worked 24-hour-or-more weeks in the booking department at MSNBC in 2011, and Monet Eliastam, who says she worked 25-hour-or-more weeks on the staff of Saturday Night Live in 2012.

According to the complaint, “By misclassifying Plaintiffs and hundreds of workers as unpaid or underpaid interns, NBCUniversal has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees, including unemployment, workers’ compensation insurance, social security contributions, and, most crucially, the right to earn a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work."

The lawsuit estimated that damages would be at least $5 million.

Settlement terms haven't been released yet, but if they cover the full class of plaintiffs who worked at NBCU since July 3, 2010, it will need to be approved by New York federal judge Ronald Ellis.

NBCU declined comment.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the plaintiffs are preparing to go before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the dispute with Fox over internships on the movie Black Swan and elsewhere. A date for oral arguments has not been set in an appeal that will test the meaning of "employer" as that term is defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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