Staff who worked the 2019 opera, Nebuchadnezzar, have filed a $1,000,000 class action lawsuit against its creator for unpaid wages and other violations.
The plaintiffs alleged they were not paid minimum wage and overtime or provided pay stubs. Dozens of people hired for the production, including a hair assistant and background actors who performed as audience members, allegedly either did not receive adequate pay in a timely manner or were not paid at all. "Kanye West Reportedly Facing $1 Million Lawsuit Over 2019 Opera" vibe.com (Nov. 05, 2020).
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In the above matter, the plaintiffs claim that they were non-exempt employees and were therefore due minimum wage and overtime.
A possible defense is that the participants in the opera production were volunteers, especially because the production was religious in nature and recruited people from church organizations. If, however, the volunteer duties were those that paid employees would normally perform, the defense may not be helpful.
Most people who perform work for a family should be considered employees and, where appropriate, contractors. On occasion, family employers, perhaps through their foundations, may provide unpaid internships.
Interns are different from volunteers. While a volunteer position is often short in duration and focused on very narrow duties and/or projects, like a person who may volunteer time at food bank, an internship is like a job, with certain expectations, but performed without pay.
The goal of an internship is to provide experience that will permit an intern to enter the workplace with more experience. In order to qualify as an unpaid internship, the following six criteria must be met:
· The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training in an educational environment;
· The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
· The intern does not displace regular staff, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
· The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded by the internship;
· The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
· The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.