21st Century Fox Settles Unpaid Intern Lawsuits

Internship paying peanuts
Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

Two 21st Century Fox Inc (FOX) units have settled class-action litigation by former interns who said they should have been paid for their work, in a case that sparked multimillion-dollar settlements with interns at other big media companies.

According to papers filed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Entertainment Group will pay $495 to each claimant who interned without pay for at least two weeks at various times between 2005 and 2010.

Several dozen people are eligible for payments under the settlement, which requires approval by U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan.

The accord marks a quiet end to a lawsuit that forced companies to rethink how they use interns, and whether failing to pay students and recent college graduates looking for practical experience violated minimum wage laws.

Pauley sparked much of the debate when he ruled in June 2013 that Fox Searchlight should have paid Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, who interned on the 2010 movie “Black Swan,” because the company was the primary beneficiary of their work.

But a federal appeals court reversed that ruling last July, saying no payment was needed if the work was designed mainly to advance interns’ knowledge in a given field.

It returned the case to Pauley to examine that issue, but only after companies including Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal, Conde Nast and Viacom Inc had already reached settlements of similar suits topping $5 million.

Under Tuesday’s settlement, Glatt and Footman would be paid a respective $7,500 and $6,000. Their law firm Outten & Golden, which obtained some of the larger settlements, plans to seek up to $200,000 for legal fees and costs, court papers show.

Fox spokesman Chris Petrikin said in a statement: “Having decisively prevailed in our appeal, Fox wishes to put this matter completely behind us. We will refocus on a return to our proud history of offering dynamic, educational internships.”

A lawyer for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Glatt et al v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-06784.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.