| NEW YORK, March 12
NEW YORK, March 12 Viacom Inc agreed to
pay $7.21 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by thousands
of former interns who said the owner of Comedy Central, MTV and
Nickelodeon did not pay them, despite their having done work
similar to paid employees.
The settlement disclosed on Wednesday night in Manhattan
federal court covers roughly 12,500 former interns, and requires
It is among the largest settlements by companies, including
many in the media industry, that have been sued since 2013 by
interns who claim they were not paid, or were paid less than
minimum wage, in violation of federal and state labor laws.
Last year, Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal unit
settled a similar case for $6.4 million, while magazine
publisher Condé Nast reached a $5.85 million accord. Both
settlements won preliminary court approval in December.
The Viacom accord covers interns who worked in New York from
August 2007 to June 2013, and in California from September 2010
to June 2013.
Viacom agreed to pay interns who submit claims of $505
before taxes for each semester of work, up to a maximum payment
of $1,010. The New York-based company denied wrongdoing.
The named plaintiffs are Casey Ojeda, who worked at MTV in
New York, and Karina Reynaga, who worked in human resources in
Santa Monica, California. Each would receive a $5,000 award
under the settlement for serving as the named plaintiffs.
In a court filing, lawyers for the intern class called the
payout "a significant recovery given the potential damages and
the substantial risks if the case proceeds to trial."
The interns' law firms, Virginia & Ambinder and Leeds Brown
Law, will seek fees of up to $900,000, inclusive of expenses,
the filing shows.
Many of the intern lawsuits were filed after a pathbreaking
June 2013 decision in which U.S. District Judge William Pauley
in Manhattan said Twenty-First Century Fox Inc should
have paid two interns who worked on the 2010 movie "Black Swan."
The case is Ojeda et al v. Viacom Inc et al, U.S. District
Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-05658.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by W Simon)