Over six months after the potentially industry game changing June 11 ruling that unpaid interns on the Darren Aronofsky-directed Black Swan were really employees, Fox Searchlight today were handed an opportunity to turn things around. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals granted the label and the Fox Entertainment Group their request to appeal vital aspects of District Judge William Paley III’s ruling from earlier this summer (read it here). The Appeal court gave Fox Searchlight the right to appeal the class certification of former interns Alex Footman and Eric Glatt’s case. The court also granted the Foxes an appeal on the summary judgment in the former interns’ favor that they were treated as Fox employees in their internship under the definitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. Needless to say, even with a couple of other legal wins under its belt in this case since June, Fox Searchlight felt Thanksgiving came a little early this year. “We believe the District Court’s rulings are erroneous. We are pleased that the Second Circuit has granted our petitions to review those rulings at this time,” a studio spokesperson told me today. Fox first sought the Second Circuit’s involvement in Judge Paley’s order back in late August. Today’s ruling also links the appeals with an intern case moving through the courts involving the Hearst Corporation. Fox opposed consolidating the Hearst case with their appeal and were granted that too but both appeals will proceed in tandem.
Related: Fox Searchlight Scores Partial Win In ‘Black Swan’ Interns Lawsuit
Footman and Glatt began their case back in September 2011 on behalf of themselves and more than 100 Fox Searchlight interns. They sought back pay from the Fox specialty label for work they believe they should have been paid for. Their suit sought to stop what the plaintiffs said was the studio’s incorrect use of students for what is supposed to be training similar to that provided by an educational institution — not getting coffee and other grunt work. The studio eventually fired back that the two were never actually Fox Searchlight interns. Fox Searchlight argued that the duo was actually working for Aronofsky’s production company on the 2010 film. In August 2012, the plaintiffs attempted to expand the scope of their suit to include all interns who participated in Fox Entertainment Group’s internship program. With today’s ruling, the calm that had descended on this case has now dissipated. While it might take a couple of months, expect Fox Searchlight to move aggresively on those now granted appeals
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.