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New York judge grants unpaid interns status to advance case

Some employees from White Plains, New York, may be unpaid interns who work long hours for New York companies without the benefit of pay. However, interns have been banding together to fight for fair compensation and assert their employee rights.

These determined unpaid interns pose a problem for the well-known record company, Warner Music. According to the report, the company has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a former intern. The plaintiff interned at a Warner Music division and stated that he worked every day of the work week for long hours, doing tasks that were usually handled by paid employees. The ex-intern contended that the internship program went against the Fair Labor Standards Act and that he believed that his filing may also affect thousands of other people who previously performed internship duties at the company.

A U.S. district judge's recent ruling has given the intern's case class certification, which will allow the suit to progress as a class action suit, reaching out to thousands of interns who worked for Warner Music over the years. The judge concluded that the plaintiffs provided evidence showing a common FLSA violation. The ex-interns alleged that they completed work similar to employees in their respective departments but did not receive any academic credits or compensation. The defendant responded, saying that potential compensation for the plaintiffs would depend on whether each unpaid intern was classified as an employee under the FLSA or as a trainee subject to statutory exceptions.

This unpaid internship lawsuit against Warner Music may show that employees, including interns, have employee rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA creates labor standards that include both full-time employees and part-time workers. Relief may be available to employees, including unpaid interns, should their employers violate the FLSA.

Source: "Interns win class certification in lawsuit against WMG," Eriq Gardner, May 14, 2014

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