Charlie Rose Settles Intern Class Action for $250,000

When one thinks of labor exploitation, PBS doesn’t typically come to mind.

Yet an unpaid intern named Lucy Bickerton filed a class action suit against Charlie Rose’s production company earlier this year, alleging that it violated New York state labor law.

Today, the New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse reported that Rose is settling for up to $250,000. The terms of the deal mean that interns who worked for Rose’s company for one semester between March 14, 2006 and October 1, 2012 are entitled to $1,100 each — $110 a week, up to a maximum of 10 weeks.

In an interview with Greenhouse, Bickerton described the deal as “a really important moment for this movement against unpaid internships.”

Symbolically, perhaps. But because the case was settled, no legal precedent was set. And even if one had been set, it would have only been under New York state law.

A more significant case in the ongoing dispute between unpaid labor and capital is the class action lawsuit that former Harper’s Bazaar intern Diana Wang brought against the company. She alleged that the magazine broke both New York and federal laws.

Harper’s parent company, Hearst Corporation, appears to be gearing up for a fight, too. In late November, it sent a mass email “collecting stories from interns who valued the opportunities and experiences they received from their internships.”

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Samuel Knight

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.