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Payton Employment Law, PC Files Wage & Hour Class Action Against Kinetic Content and Netflix

Payton Employment Law, PC recently filed a class action lawsuit against production company, Kinetic Content, distributor, Netflix and casting company, Delirium TV, on behalf of its client Jeremy Hartwell alleging multiple labor law violations on the set of Love is Blind and other non-scripted shows produced by Kinetic for Netflix. The lawsuit alleges that Hartwell and other contestants were forced to work in inhumane conditions, were unlawfully underpaid wages, and misclassified as independent contractors.

This recently filed case, in which Payton Employment Law, PC represents Jeremy Hartwell, has been featured in more than 100 news stories around the world, and has forged an important discourse about worker rights in the reality TV industry as well as the inhumane working conditions and hard-hitting wage violations many TV stars suffer. To read some of the tops article, click here:

The filing further alleges that the cast members on these shows were only paid $1,000 per week despite shooting days frequently reaching 20 hours and occurring multiple days per week. This amounts to far less than minimum wage. If a contestant sought to leave early, they were threatened with the imposition of a $50,000 "liquidated damages" clause as a penalty.

The Supreme Court set forth the criteria that defines “employee” status in 2018’s Dynamex ruling. California Labor Code § 2775 codified Dynamex into law and spelled out the criteria a worker must meet to be considered an independent contractor (better known as the “ABC Test”). Under this test, the employer bears the burden of proving that the worker is (a) free from the company’s control in how the work is performed, (b) is doing work that is not central to the company’s business operations, and (c) has an independent business of the same nature as the work involved.

Here, the Firm contends that the shows’ participants should have been classified as employees because the Defendants controlled virtually every aspect of the cast members’ day-to-day activities—including their schedules, operations, and the manner in which the work was performed.

Moreover, the lawsuit alleges the Defendants exerted further control by subjecting shows’ cast members to inhumane conditions including depriving them of sufficient food, sleep, and water all while strongly promoting copious alcohol consumption. The lawsuit further alleges that the Defendants isolated the cast for prolonged periods of time without access to people outside of production and the use of their own ID's, credit cards, phones, and cash which were all taken away.

Payton Employment Law, PC is representing Mr. Hartwell in this case and is prosecuting the lawsuit on behalf of a class of employees. The class of employees includes every participant in all reality TV shows Kinetic Content has produced for Netflix throughout the last four years.

Netflix’s hit show Love is Blind first aired in 2020 and rapidly grew into one of the streaming media platform’s most-watched shows. Love is Blind follows 15 men and 15 women who spend ten days dating one another in specifically designed pods. These pods allow the contestants to talk with, but not see, one another. Throughout the span of these ten days, a contestant can choose to offer a marriage proposal to any of the other contestants. If the marriage proposal is accepted, then the new couple can finally meet face-to-face. After they meet, the couple goes to a romantic retreat for four weeks to begin getting to know each other and establish their new relationship. When the four weeks have ended, the couple participates in a wedding ceremony in which the couples are given their final opportunity to say “I do” or “I don’t.”

The premise of this reality dating TV show may be a bit on unconventional side, perhaps even downright strange to some, but it is certainly entertaining enough to keep the interest of more than 30 million viewers. Reality television can often seem glamorous, exciting, and a guaranteed path to financial success. However, the reality is that in many instances, working on a reality television show falls quite short of these expectations and violations of worker’s rights can be rampant.

Payton Employment Law, PC strongly believes that all workplaces should be held accountable when they violate workers’ rights. We are proud to aggressively and tirelessly work to represent Hartwell and the putative class as we seek to recover unpaid wages, penalties, liquidated damages, interest, meal and rest periods premiums, as well as civil penalties for the multitude of Labor Code violations alleged in the lawsuit.

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