Internships. Fox. Lawsuit.


Fox Entertainment Group.

Interns. US Department of Labor

Internships. US Department of Labor.

Over the past several years, the concept of internship has come under greater scrutiny. For instance, when does an intern actually cross the threshold that makes her or him an employee?

A five-year legal battle over unpaid internships finally culminated on July 12th when Fox Entertainment Group settled with several people who worked as unpaid interns for the company’s television, film and digital divisions.

Black Swan.

The lawsuit originated in September of 2011 when Eric Glatt and Alex Footman, who worked as unpaid interns on the production of “Black Swan,” a film produced by Fox Searchlight Pictures. They claimed that the company used them to perform “menial tasks” that should have been performed by company employees, and that they received no educational benefits from their internships. More plaintiffs joined the suit and it eventually became a class action.

The U.S. Department of Labor lists the following criteria for unpaid internships:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  • 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.

Absent of all of the above criteria, an employer/employee relationship then exists – meaning the employer must pay the person doing the work at least the minimum wage.

Two years later the plaintiffs celebrated a huge victory in summary judgment, which sent shock-waves throughout corporate America and had companies scurrying to review and update their internship policies.

But the victory was short-lived.

Two years later on July 2015, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the summary judgment ruling. The court stated that the original trial judge focused too much on the Department of Labor criteria, and should have focused more on how the internship related to the intern’s academic coursework, academic credits, and academic commitments in regards to the school calendar. 2nd Circuit Judge John Walker stated the following opinion: “In sum, we agree with the defendants that the proper question is whether the intern or the employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship.”

When the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied a rehearing, the case headed back to Federal Court in New York City. To avoid the risks and expense both parties faced an agreement was finally reached. The two original plaintiffs, Glatt and Footman, received $7,500 and $6,000 respectively, but the total amount of money in the payout is yet to be disclosed.

If you plan of interning at a company, or if you are a company using interns, it is more important than ever that you fully understand your rights and responsibilities.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

Sometimes You Just Have No Choice – Or Do You?


Serenity Prayer.

lonely thinking person on peak of mountain at sunset

Take Control. Choice.

The Serenity Prayer says, “Grant me the serenity to accept the thing I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have choices, but in truth we almost always do.

An acquaintance of mine, named Lara, was laid off from her job of fifteen years. She was a loyal employee and was confident her employer would reward her faithfulness with uninterrupted employment and an occasional thank you. So when she was laid off, she was devastated. “How could this happen to me,” she cried, “I’ve given the company the best years of my life and this is the thanks I get.” Lara had a right to be upset. She had a right to be angry. And although she had no choice in being terminated, she did have a choice in how she handled it.

She took control of her life. She allowed herself time to be angry. Then, instead of moping around and feeling sorry for herself for weeks and months, she took this seemingly bad situation and turned it into an opportunity to receive training in an area she was interested in. She also used the unscheduled break in employment as a respite, a time for a much needed vacation. Lara chose to work her situation to her advantage.

What does this story mean for you? Today identify a situation in which you feel you didn’t have a choice. Think through why you thought you didn’t have a choice. Now, go back and think about what you would have done differently. In hindsight, were there other options you could have explored? Is there something you can do right now?

I’m Francine Ward, author of Esteemable Acts, life coach and motivational speaker. Join my Esteemable Acts conversation on Facebook or check out my Esteemable Acts website.

NBA. Video Games. Copyright Infringement.


Games. Video Games.

Copyright.Video simulation games are all the rage in our society. These games can simulate just about anything; war, race car driving, flying, and especially sports. Forecasts show that the video game industry will bring in $1.8 trillion globally in 2016 and forecasts for the future explode way beyond this figure.

NBA. Take-Two Interactive Inc.

Some of the more popular games in recent years are simulations of professional basketball, the NBA. The most recent release, NBA 2K16, is the 17th installment of the NBA 2K series and was released in September of 2015. The developer of this series is a company called Visual Concepts Entertainment, and the publisher is 2K Sports, a subsidiary of video game manufacturer, Take-Two Interactive Inc.

Artist RJD2. Clean Living.

Since the release of NBA 2K16, there have been two copyright lawsuits filed against the developers and publisher. The most recent case was filed on June 20th by a musician John J. Simon, who claims parts of a song he wrote in 1978 are used in NBA 2K16 without his permission and without compensation.

The title track of NBA 2K16 is a song called “Clean Living” by artist RJD2. The plaintiff, Mr. Simon, claims that up to 7 seconds of a song he composed called “Everything You Are to Me” is used in the title track. He further claims that he registered his work in 1979 with the U.S. Copyright Office. He is pursuing damages, which include monetary compensation for lost wages, attorney costs and other fees.

Back in February, a tattoo licensing company, Solid Oak Sketches, filed a copyright infringement suit against Take-Two Interactive. The suit pertained to tattoos designed by the company which were used on the simulations of players in NBA 2K16, including LeBron James. They claim their copyrighted designs were used without permission. Take-Two Interactive has moved to dismiss the suit.

With realistic details being a premium when it comes to video games, there are sure to be many more lawsuits in the future involving copyright and trademark.

What do you think about this? Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.


Mark Geragos. Snapchat. Inappropriate Material.


APP. Mobile Messaging.

Phone. Snapchat. App.California based attorney Mark Geragos, who has represented high profile clients such as Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, is now taking on Snapchat, a mobile messaging app launched in 2011, which allows users to share videos, photos, text and drawings.

Earlier this year, the app reached 10 billion daily video views. According to a May 2016 article in Forbes, Snapchat is valued at $18 to $20 billion.

Geragos filed suit on behalf of Lynette Young and her minor child and is seeking class-action status. The suit contends that Snapchat is exposing underage users to sexually explicit and inappropriate material and not giving sufficient warning to the users and their parents. Users must state that they are at least 13 years of age to sign up for the service.

Terms of Service.

Snapchat’s terms of service warns its users not to send sexually explicit messages, but the suit contends that the company is not doing enough. Discover, a feature of the app allows the sharing of material, including videos, from third-party sources such as MTV, BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan magazine. The lawsuit contends that parents of minor users would object to much of the material if they were aware of its accessibility.

Geragos stated that about 25 people have contacted his office over the past year expressing their concern over their children’s exposure to crude images, sexual references and other topics, such as drugs and alcohol. “A lot of the sites have taken the affirmative approach of dealing with this, but Snapchat isn’t one of them,” said Geragos.


Through their spokesman, Snapchat said they have not yet been served with the lawsuit but regret that people are offended by some of the content. They also expressed support for the “independence” of their partners. Historically, the courts have ruled that internet companies are generally immune from lawsuits based on third party content posted on their sites and/or service, so this case can hold profound ramifications for all internet companies that allow third party content.

As of yet, no hearing date has been set for the case filed at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.




An Attitude of Gratitude


Esteemable Act. Appreciate.

Young woman standing in meditation on the top of a hill


How do you get started on this journey of acknowledging and appreciating those who’ve helped you along the way? The first step is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in which you choose to see the good in all things. The second step is to say “thank you” every chance you get. Being grateful doesn’t mean you must always be happy and walk around with a smile on your face. It means that you make an effort to acknowledge what you have to be thankful for. Gratitude lifts the spirit, opens the heart, and nourishes the soul. Think about the times when you’ve been grateful, it’s easier to feel good about yourself because you are willing and able to see the good in others.

Gratitude List.

Every week I write a gratitude list. There are days when it’s so easy to come up with the things I’m grateful for that my pen glides across the paper or my fingers dance over the keyboard. Then there are those days when I can’t think of anything to be thankful for. It’s not that there isn’t anything for me to be thankful for; I just can’t – or more honestly, choose not to – see anything. Perhaps it’s because I am angry or hurt or disappointed at the moment, so all I can see is the glass half empty.

But then I put the pen to the paper, and just do it! Amazingly, once I begin to write, more things are revealed.

What are you grateful for?

Today I invite you to think of something that happened within the last twenty-four hours that you’re grateful for. If you can’t think of anything, extend your net a little wider to include the last week, month or year. Consider also looking beyond the obvious. Perhaps the answer might be something you’d never think about, like being able to see, being able to walk, having a job, or not having a job so you have time to do what you want.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.