ICM Partners have settled a lawsuit brought by two former interns, putting to rest claims in federal court that the interns performed the jobs of paid employees.
The two interns claimed that they were unpaid, but didn't actually receive any educational instruction while they were with ICM. Their claims are similar to various other unpaid intern suits in the entertainment industry, and Deadline reports that the ex-interns' attorneys handled claims against Fox Searchlight and NBCUniversal as well.
So how did this suit settle before Christmas?
Mediation, Sweet Mediation
In a smart move by both ICM and the plaintiffs, they agreed to work out their claims in mediation beginning December 15. One of the advantages of mediation is that both parties can attempt to find common interests and hasten settlement. And apparently it worked, as both parties announced they had reached a settlement eight days after beginning mediation.
The terms of the settlement haven't been publicly disclosed, but both parties will need to file for preliminary approval of their settlement agreement in federal court. The court will need to determine whether the settlement was reached in good faith and fair dealing, and it may be rejected if the terms are too unfavorable to one side or the other. Class-action settlements typically face these issues more than smaller settlements, and luckily for ICM, they agreed to settle the matter while the case involved just two ex-interns.
Other Pending Unpaid Intern Suits
Although a settlement will not include any admission of fault on the part of ICM, the allegations made by both of its former interns aren't exactly news in the entertainment world. The common legal thread in all of these cases: allegations that unpaid interns were just cheap substitutes for paid employees, in violation of federal labor laws.
NBCUniversal settled claims brought by its former interns for $6.4 million, and publisher Conde Nast settled with its ex-interns for $5.8 million. Other ex-intern suits rage on, with the producers of "Black Swan" and "The Wendy Williams Show" still litigating their cases.
It's somewhat heartening to see ICM and the plaintiffs settle their case so quickly, and just in time for Christmas too.