Glatt et al. v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc. et al., 2015 WL 4033018 (2d Cir. 2015)

Plaintiffs Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman were retained as unpaid interns on the Fox Searchlight-distributed film Black Swan; Plaintiff Eden Antalik interned at Fox Searchlight’s corporate offices in New York City. Glatt and Footman sued for unpaid wages (minimum wage and overtime) under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law, while Antalik moved to certify a class of unpaid interns who were retained at certain Fox corporate divisions in New York and a nationwide FLSA collective of unpaid interns retained by those same divisions nationwide. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Glatt and Footman, concluding they had been improperly classified as unpaid interns rather than employees, and granted Antalik’s motions to certify the class of New York interns and to conditionally certify the nationwide FLSA collective. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the district court, holding that the proper question is whether the intern/employee in question is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. The Court of Appeals concluded that in the context of unpaid internships, a “non-exhaustive set of considerations” should be used, including the reasonable expectations of the parties, the training opportunities available to the intern, the connection to a formal education program, the limited duration of the relationship, etc., and that “no one factor is dispositive and every factor need not point in the same direction…” The Court also reversed the certification of the class and the FLSA collective because the district court had “misconstrued our standards for determining when common questions predominate over individual ones.” See also Wang v. The Hearst Corp., 2015 WL 4033091 (2d Cir. 2015) (same).