‘Wendy Williams Show’ Intern Files Wage Abuse Lawsuit Against Lionsgate

Plaintiff charges that he and others weren’t paid for doing grunt work on the talk show

wendy williams
20th Television

A former intern for “The Wendy Williams Show” alleges that Lionsgate Entertainment unlawfully classified him and others as exempt from minimum wages, according to a putative class action lawsuit filed in New York.

Lead plaintiff Anthony Tart said that the show’s distributor Lionsgate and its subsidiary Debmar-Mercury, which produces the show, have a policy of hiring unpaid interns in violation of federal and New York state laws.

“Defendants’ unlawful conduct has been pursuant to a corporate policy or practice of minimizing labor costs by denying named plaintiff and the putative class members compensation,” he said in the complaint, which was filed Friday.

A Lionsgate spokesman late Tuesday declined comment to TheWrap.

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Tart claims that he and others were forced to wash dishes, fetch coffee and take out the garbage in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, New York Minimum Wage Law and New York Wage Theft Law. The show would have had to hire paid employees to perform those tasks in the absence of the interns, Tate said, and failed to provide the educational or vocational training to the interns that may have exempted Lionsgate from having to comply with the FLSA.

He’s wants to include all unpaid interns who have worked for the show since 2008.

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The suit is the latest in a flurry brought by unpaid interns at entertainment and media companies who allege they are unfairly being used as cheap labor and exploited rather than educated.

The Fox Entertainment Group, MTV, Universal Music Group and talent agency ICM have been the target of similar suits, as was publishing giant Conde Nast, which recently settled. Another filing against CBS Corp. by a former intern on “The Late Show With David Letterman” was recently dismissed.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.