The most recent in a string of such lawsuits, a former Marc Jacobs intern has initiated a class action lawsuit against the fashion designer for failing to pay interns proper minimum wage and overtime wage rates. Plaintiff Linney Warren sued Marc Jacobs alleging that she often worked 70-hour weeks in May, fetching coffee, moving raw materials between studios, sorting fabrics, fixing patterns, and sewing. Other companies recently hit with similar lawsuits include Fox Entertainment, Lions Gate Entertainment, Coach, and more.
Altogether failing to pay interns who are not receiving legitimate academic or vocational training is an unfair wage practice. Similarly, failing to give paid interns appropriate minimum wage rates and overtime wage rates violates the Fair Labor Standards Act and comparable state legislation. In addition to exposing employers to liability, these practices take advantage of young people who don’t fully understand wage and hour law and who are working hard in the infancy of their careers.
Historically, owners and managers of strip clubs have adhered to a business model that classifies exotic dancers (often called “strippers”) as independent contractors rather than employees. By classifying dancers as independent contractors, employers are able to reap the financial benefits of having dancers work for them (and, as a result, turning a profit) while simultaneously avoiding having to pay the dancers for their work, paying into social security, and potentially paying unemployment insurance and workers compensation. This business model, however, may be quickly eroding.
In November, 2012, a federal court approved a roughly $13 million settlement in a nationwide class-action lawsuit against 16 strip clubs which were classifying their dancers as independent contractors. Stephanie Hoops, Spearmint Rhino Exotic Dancers Settle Suit For Nearly $13 Million, The Huffington Post (November 11, 2012 1:32 PM) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/spearmint-rhino-exotic-dancers-settle-suit_n_2128458.html. Moreover, recent court decisions have nearly unanimously ruled that exotic dancers are employees, not independent contractors. See Hart v. Rick’s Cabaret International, Inc., 2013 WL 4822199 (2013); Clincy v. Galardi South Enterprises, Inc., 808 F.Supp.2d 1326 (2011); Thompson v. Linda And A, Inc. 779 F.Supp.2d 139 (2011). That notwithstanding, there are still many strip clubs which continue to classify their dancers as independent contractors. [click to continue…]
Madia Law represented “Laura” – a physician’s assistant who was hired by a medical clinic that found Laura through a recruiting agency. After hiring Laura, the clinic began making deductions from her checks to cover the “recruitment fee” that it paid the agency to find Laura. In total, the clinic deducted close to $30,000 from Laura’s wages to recover its recruitment costs.
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One of Minnesota’s largest law firms filed a class action lawsuit against a Minneapolis small business, alleging violations of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act and Payment of Wages Act. The firm sought over $2,000,000 in damages and refused to settle for anything less, apparently hoping that the costs of litigation would force the small business to settle the case.
No such luck. Madia Law represented the business and, after a two week jury trial in Hennepin County District Court, the jury ruled against the firm on three out of five claims and awarded a verdict of just over $15,000.
Please note that every case is different, with its own unique facts. Just because Madia Law achieved a certain result in this case does not mean that you will obtain the same result in your case. You should contact Madia Law to discuss your business litigation case in detail and get an accurate assessment of its value.