Following a spate of unpaid internship lawsuits against major record labels last summer, festival volunteers are filing a similar class action lawsuit against live events promoters Live Nation and Insomniac Events, reports Complete Music Update.
The plaintiff, who volunteered at Insomniac's Nocturnal Wonderland dance festival in California, claims volunteers were hired "to carry out the work of paid employees" and were subsequently not paid for their time in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Usually, festival volunteers are "paid" in tickets to the event. In this case, it appears the plaintiff felt that was not enough to constitute fair compensation.
“We’re really disappointed to hear about this lawsuit," comments Jennifer Forkish, Insomniac’s VP of communications and public affairs, in a statement. "There are thousands of current and former Insomniac volunteers who are expressing their outrage online over this suit, as well as their desire to continue volunteering at our events. We appreciate the support of these individuals and intend to vigorously defend the lawsuit."
According to ClassAction.org, Insomniac's violations include: not paying hourly minimum wage ($7.25) or overtime, not keeping track of employee hours, and recruiting unpaid workers to a for-profit company. The company is also accused of having misled volunteers by refusing to give them promised time off to "enjoy the festival," failing to teach them about "the inner workings of festival production," and, finally, in some cases keeping the non-refundable deposit volunteers were required to pay in the event that they did not fulfill their duties. The lawsuit aims to cover volunteers who worked at any Live Nation or Insomniac event, concert, or "promotional gathering" over the past four years.
Many of these charges -- mainly inadequate hourly and overtime compensation and failure to follow through on "valuable internship-quality training" -- were leveled on behalf of interns against Warner Music, Sony, Columbia, and Atlantic last year following a precedent set by class action lawsuits against other media outlets such as NBCUniversal and Gawker. In one case, interns scored a victory against Fox Entertainment Group for work when the judge ruled in their favor, which catalyzed a wave of hopeful plaintiffs quashed by a federal judge's ruling against 3,000 fashion magazine interns in a lawsuit against publishing conglomerate Hearst.
Internship programs have been under scrutiny especially in the dwindling job market, leading to more opportunities for unpaid work, and more people, either new to the workforce or out of work, eager to take them in the hopes that the skills they learn will lead to full-time employment. The class action suits against record labels have yet to be settled, and as of now it is unclear what the ruling will be in this particular case.
In June of 2013, the two live events behemoths teamed for a "creative partnership", allowing Live Nation to access the Insomniac Events brand's loyal and fast-growing fanbase while providing the promoter the benefit of the former's infrastructure and capital.