Former Intern Files Suit Against Clear Channel

Link to Newsweek Article by Zach Schonfeld

A former intern for Clear Channel Communications has filed a suit against the massive radio broadcasting company in federal court, alleging that she performed the job of a paid employee in her unpaid internship and should have been compensated as such.

The plaintiff, Liane Arias, worked for Clear Channel’s promotions and marketing department from August through December 2011, during which time her tasks included assembling current events reports and going to giveaways and other events to promote Clear Channel stations.

Now she argues that she—and any other ex-interns included in the class-action lawsuit—is owed back wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets the terms under which an educational internship can be unpaid.

Court filings obtained by Newsweek claim that Clear Channel’s conduct “has been intentional, willful and in bad faith, and has caused significant damages to Plaintiff and members of the putative class.”

Arias is represented by Leeds Brown Law and Virginia & Ambinder, a Manhattan law firm that has brought similar suits against Warner Music, Sirius, Madison Square Garden, Viacom and other companies. Last week it also filed cases against Atlas Media, Coach Inc., UBS Financial Services and several other companies.

LaDonna Lusher, a senior associate at Virginia & Ambinder, said the suit is similar to others the firm has been involved with recently.

“We’re representing them because they did the work of paid employees and were unpaid,” Lusher told Newsweek. “They didn’t get any sort of wage or stipend as far as we know.”

These lawsuits all come in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling in 2013 that two unpaid interns on the set of the film Black Swan performed the work of paid employees and so should be subject to minimum wage laws. That decision marked “the first major ruling on the illegality of unpaid internships in recent years,” ProPublica reported at the time.

Clear Channel did not respond to a request for comment.