A Federal District Court judge ruled Tuesday that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated federal and New York minimum wage laws by not paying production interns on the film "Black Swan" -- a decision that could have broad implications for industries that have long relied on the work of unpaid interns.
The judge, according to the New York Times, said the interns should have been paid because they were essentially regular employees. The internship, Judge William H. Pauley III determined, did not foster an educational environment and the company simply reaped the benefits of the interns' work. He called for companies to follow the criteria for unpaid internships already delineated by the Department of Labor, which, in part, states that the work must not be of immediate advantage to the employer and must be similar in nature to vocational training.
A spokesman for 20th Century Fox told the Times that the company was "disappointed" with the court's rulings and will seek to have them reversed.
This is the first in a series of cases filed by unpaid interns. A former Harper’s Bazaar intern sued Hearst Magazines in 2012. This February, an unpaid intern sued Elite Model Management for $50 million.