Major magazine publisher Conde Nast closed out the year with preliminary court approval of its $5.85 million settlement of a lawsuit that alleged that thousands of individuals should have been paid at least the minimum wage for time they spent as interns for magazines such as The New Yorker. The settlement is expected to cover more than 7,000 former interns. Thus, the parties are able to resolve their dispute without additional time, expense and uncertainty of litigation. The settlement, which will be subject to a hearing and final approval in June, follows a decision by Conde Nast a year ago to discontinue its internship program, as we reported here. The case is Ballinger, et al. v. Advanced Magazine Publishers, Inc., No. 13-04036 (S.D. N.Y.)
Meanwhile, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes New York, has scheduled oral argument for Jan. 30, 2015, in two cases that involve the issue of unpaid interns under the Fair Labor Standards Act. District Court judges reached differing decisions in the underlying cases, with class action status being granted in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, No. 13-4478, and class action status being denied in Wang v. Hearst Corp., No. 13-4480. For more background on those cases, see our prior posts here and here.
The issue of proper classification of interns will continue to draw attention, as will the issue of proper criteria for class actions in employment wage and hour cases, and thus we will continue to watch for the outcome of the cases that are on appeal.