On January 13, 2017, NELA joined a coalition of groups led by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on behalf of the Plaintiff-Appellants in Wang et al. v. Hearst Corp. This case involves the appeal of a district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Hearst Corporation by concluding that no reasonable jury could find that the unpaid intern plaintiffs are employees doing work meriting payment of minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as interpreted by an earlier Second Circuit case, Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., 811 F.3d 528 (2d Cir. 2015).
The brief argues that concerns regarding of the dangers of alternative working arrangements (including rampant use of unpaid interns) have further crystalized in the period since Glatt was briefed. Against that backdrop, the Hearst case presents the opportunity to clarify to district courts that Glatt did not alter the well-settled principle that exemptions to the FLSA should be applied narrowly; that the FLSA must be interpreted liberally; and that, in the summary judgment context, given how fact intensive the inquiry into economic realities necessarily is, disputed issues of fact should be resolved by a jury.
The amicus brief was written by NELA member Rachel Geman and her colleague Michael Decker (both from Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP in New York, NY).