Two interns are suing Fox Searchlight because as interns, they had to perform intern-like duties on the set of Black Swan. The poor dears had to do things like “preparing coffee for the production office, ensuring that the coffee pot was full, taking and distributing lunch orders for the production staff, taking out the trash and cleaning the office” — otherwise known as “things that interns do” (except at the Voice, where our interns do real things, for what it’s worth). Alex Footman, a 2009 Wesleyan graduate, and a bizarrely old (42) accounting intern named Eric Glatt are co-plaintiffs in a suit claiming that Fox Searchlight violated minimum wage and overtime laws. This certainly won’t help their burgeoning film industry careers.
The lawsuit says, “Fox Searchlight’s unpaid interns are a crucial labor force on its productions, functioning as production assistants and bookkeepers and performing secretarial and janitorial work. In misclassifying many of its workers as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them the benefits that the law affords to employees.”
Yes: in general, it sucks to be an unpaid intern, unless you’re a Runnin’ Scared intern, in which case you’ve got it made. However, does it suck so much that you should actually sue?
The short answer is no. Footman and Glatt might be justified in their anger, and if Fox Searchlight really was violating regulations that’s another thing. But a lawsuit based on people asking you to get them coffee? Yeesh. Footman to the Times: “The only thing I learned on this internship was to be more picky in choosing employment opportunities.” Dude, you could have always just quit. It’s not like you were getting paid anyway.
Footman, auteur of Wesleyan student film “Pyrrhic Victory,” hasn’t yet returned our request for comment.
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