Anyone who’s been an unpaid college intern knows what goes into the job: getting coffee, making copies, sending boring e-mails, etc. But some interns do more than busy work while learning their business; some actually get deeply involved in producing whatever the company they’re at produces. That’s definitely the case at “Charlie Rose,” the PBS interview show that runs on a tiny budget. And it’s because of that, a former intern is suing the show and host Charlie Rose, hoping that the case becomes the basis of a class-action suit.
The lawsuit, detailed by the New York Times, was filed in Manhattan Superior Court by Lucy Bickerton, who interned at the show for three months in 2007. In the suit, she describes some of the duties that interns had to perform on the show, including, as the article states, “providing background research for Mr. Rose about interview guests, assembling press packets, escorting guests through the studio, breaking down the interview set after daily filming and cleaning up the green room.” She worked doing these tasks for 25 hours per week without pay.
To Bickerton, that goes above and beyond what the definition of an unpaid internship should be according to New York Department of Labor, according to the Times: “If an employer uses trainees as substitutes for regular workers or to augment its existing work force during specific times or in general, these interns would be treated as employees.”
Basically, Bickerton and her lawyers are using her case as an example to any company who uses unpaid college interns, and hope that the suit can get class action status. Certainly, for the work Bickerton did, she likely deserved some compensation. However, she also got a heck of an introduction to TV production in her three-month stint. Would she have been better off, say, picking up Kathie Lee Gifford‘s dry cleaning? Probably not.
Watch an episode of “Charlie Rose”: