On April 24, 2014, Melissa Tierney, a former intern for Sirius XM Radio personality Howard Stern, filed a class action complaint alleging that the company violated the Fair Labor Standard Act and New York labor laws.
As reported on Huffingtonpost.com, Ms. Tierney claims that during her five-month internship with Stern’s show, she devoted 24 to 36 hours each week running errands, viewing news clips, and getting food for personnel and guests – time for which she was not paid, and for which she alleges Sirius XM “would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours….”
Misclassifying employees as independent contractors and interns in an effort to thwart the federal and state wage and hour laws has become increasingly common. One of the determining factors of interns is how much they can reasonably be expected to learn from their unpaid work. Ms. Tierney argues that she did not receive any substantial educational experience, thus entitling her to monetary compensation instead.
The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. If the class action is certified, it would open the door for additional claims by other unpaid Sirius XM interns who worked at the company as far back as 2008.