Television is a cutthroat and complicated industry. Producing a show requires people in many different roles to work long and often varied hours. Production schedules can change at a moment's notice, especially when it comes to unscripted reality TV shows or news reports. This can make ensuring that everyone working on a show receives fair compensation complicated, but employers must still comply with wage and overtime laws. Recently, Sharp Entertainment, the producer of Bad Ink and Man v. Food, has agreed to a $226,000 settlement with New York Attorney General.The New York Attorney General has regularly stood up for the rights of television production workers under New York wage laws. This particular case involved unpaid overtime for numerous production assistants and associate producers who worked long hours on the above-mentioned shows.
According to reports, Sharp Entertainment paid production assistants and associate producers a set weekly amount, regardless of the number of hours worked. The company justified this by claiming the schedule varied so often that it thought paying a set amount was fair to the employees. Sharp also treated these employees as exempt from overtime payments. The A.G.'s office disagreed and sought unpaid overtime for the employees.
Who Is Exempt?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempts certain employees from overtime pay. An exempt employee must earn a salary that totals more than $455 per week. Anyone who earns less than that is entitled to overtime. Next, the employee must work as:
- An executive
- An administrative employee
- A learned professional
- A creative professional
- A computer employee
- An outside salesperson
- A highly compensated employee (at least $100,000 per year)
One may argue that television is an inherently creative industry, so the law may exempt people who work on a television show as creative professionals. However, not everyone who works in TV production exercizes creativity as a regular part of their jobs. In the above case, the A.G. argued the employees in question did not.
Misclassifying employees as exempt is one of the leading reasons for denial of overtime. The exemptions can prove difficult to understand and interpret, so if you have any questions about your status and overtime rights, discuss your job and payment situation with an experienced wage and hour attorney.
Contact a New York City Wage and Overtime Attorney to Discuss Your Legal Rights
No one ever said that overtime laws and exemptions were simple, though this does not excuse employees from noncomplaince with the law. At Braverman Law PC, attorney Adam Braverman has witnessed many situations in which employers have denied employees their rightful compensation for overtime after working long hours. Braverman Law PC knows how to evaluate your rights under federal and state law and seek the full compensation you deserve for the hours you put in for your employer. To schedule a consultation, please call (212) 206-8166 or contact the firm online today