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Monday, October 13, 2014
Two interns who claim that their supposedly “educational” unpaid internship with ICM Partners, one of the largest and most powerful talent agencies in Hollywood, were actually spent performing regular job duties as if they were employees have agreed to enter mediation with the agency to possibly settle the dispute. This is a significant change in strategy for ICM, which had been insisting on binding arbitration to settle the issue.
The interns, Kimberly Behzadi and Jason Rindenau, claim that instead of receiving training and education as part of their unpaid internship, they were treated as employees and ordered to handle the preparation of coverage reports and expense reports, as well as answering phones and maintaining agent calendars.
The mediation is not court-ordered and is not binding, so if no settlement emerges from the talks, the case can still go to either arbitration or the courtroom.
The use of unpaid interns to perform the full-time duties of employees is certainly not new and has been a source of aggravation and occasional litigation around the country in recent years as the economic downturn forced many companies to let go full-time employees and find other ways to get their tasks completed. However, in Hollywood, these abuses often are left private as people fear to ruin relationships that might someday assist their careers, making Behzadi and Rindenau’s willingness to go public and burn bridges unusual.
ICM, for its part, has sought dismissal of the case, maintaining that the interns did indeed receive experience and training and that asking interns to perform light office duties is neither unusual nor unfair.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014