Fox film studio sued by unpaid interns on Black Swan production 

Written by Briffa | July 29, 2016

Intellectual Property

The class action between Fox and its interns that has been going on since 2010 has finally reached a conclusion. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc and Fox Entertainment Group, Inc filed a settlement proposal for a claim brought lead by four interns who carried out unpaid work during production of the film, Black Swan.

The case has settled and Fox has agreed to make backdated payments to unpaid interns who worked for their New York and California offices for at least a two week period between 2005 and 2010.

Although this case was brought in the States, it serves as a warning to any companies offering unpaid internships and work experience in the UK as well.

Past UK cases show that if a person carries out work that a normal employee would be paid to do or has a benefit to the business, they qualify as a “worker” and should be paid at least the national minimum wage.

If none of the below exceptions apply, then a person will be a “worker”, should be paid and will be entitled to benefits such as holiday leave:

  • The intern is a UK student on a work placement for less than 12 months.
  • The intern is under 16 (although other conditions apply).
  • They are a volunteer working for a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fund raising body or a statutory body.
  • They are shadowing and not actually carrying out any work.
  • There is no contractual relationship in place (written or unwritten).

A contract which states that a person is not a “worker” may be invalid if none of the above conditions are met.

For advice on engaging interns and freelancers email



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