Sean “Diddy” Combs’ record label, Bad Boy Entertainment Inc, was hit with a class action lawsuit this week by interns accusing the company of treating them like employees while withholding pay. The suit, a putative class action, was filed in New York federal court.
The company has allegedly withheld wages from interns.
The issue of unpaid internships has been in the news a lot lately, with companies finding themselves in trouble for offering internships that do no, in reality, match the Department of Labor’s definition. True unpaid internships must offer training and teaching – many simply offer undefined ‘experience’ and a resume boost. Compounding this problem, however, is the fact that unpaid internships that technically break the rules have become the de facto standard in many industries, with interns expected to accept the tradition and ‘climb the ladder.’ Only recently have lawsuits been successfully filed that challenged the practice, and companies have been taken by surprise that interns would seek compensation that they’re technically entitled to but that many companies are reluctant to offer.
And so, Bad Boys Entertainment. Since August 2007, the company has allegedly withheld wages from interns who were misclassified as being exempt from wage laws, according to the suit. The company did not supply vocational training or even academic credit, former intern Rashida Salaam claims.
The suit may cover as many as 500 former interns. Claims include that by having interns run personal errands, including gift wrapping presents, the company has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage requirements. Salaam worked for the New York-based company from January to May 2012, working three or four days a week and sometimes working from 9 a.m. through to 6 p.m. Duties reportedly included those identical to a full time employee’s, included filing, preparing expense reports, answering phones, and getting lunch and coffee for other employees. The complaint also accuses Universal Music Group Inc, the owner of the label, of FLSA violations.
Former interns of Bad Boys Entertainment are seeking unpaid minimum wages allegedly owed, as well as interest and damages. The lawsuit alleges that the acts were unlawful but intentional and done in bad faith.
The case is Rashida Salaam et al. v. Universal Music Group Inc. et al., case number 1:13-cv-05822, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.