New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement with True Entertainment, which produces reality television shows such as “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” The settlement will result in over $410,000 in restitution for production assistants and associate producers. The settlement represents the resolution of a dispute over whether some of True Entertainment’s creative employees were eligible for overtime pay.
Creative professionals are exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Act states that an exempt employee in this category must earn above a particular salary threshold and “the employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor.”
Whether an employee who earns the minimum salary qualifies for this exemption depends on the extent of the talent originality and imagination involved in the work. Each situation must, therefore, be examined on a case by case basis before making a determination. Employers, investigators and sometimes judges, must look at the actual job duties of each employee.
There are some fields of employment that tend to qualify for this exemption, including:
As reported by Variety, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an investigation that revealed production assistants and associate producers routinely put in well over 40 hours per week. They often worked well over 50 hours and as many as 72 per week. These workers received weekly salaries and no premium pay for their extra time and effort.
The investigation also examined the job duties of the workers to determine whether their primary duties did, in fact, exempt them from overtime pay as True Entertainment believed. The office reported that the employees in question had a very wide range of job duties including crowd control, making travel arrangements, obtaining signed releases and logging filmed footage.
True Entertainment agreed to compensate the workers for their unpaid overtime. Under the terms of the settlement, True must also analyze the job duties of its producers to determine whether they fall into the creative professional exemption.
In a statement to Variety, the production company said, “True Entertainment employees receive fair and competitive compensation, and benefits including, for example, health insurance and paid time off. In this case, the company classified a small number of people as creative employees, exempt from overtime compensation, under applicable federal and state laws. The New York State Attorney General did not agree; thus, we reached an amicable settlement of the issue with the Attorney General.”
Leeds Brown Law, P.C. represents employees in New York City, Long Island and the entire New York metropolitan area. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys have spent years helping workers recover wages, including unpaid overtime.
If you think you have been wrongfully classified under the creative professional, learned professional, executive, administrative or other overtime exemptions of the FLSA, contact our office. We are here to discuss your claim for unpaid overtime 24/7. Call 1-800-585-4658.