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Saturday, April 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Class Claims ‘American Idol’ Producer Freemantle Is Sweatshop

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Freemantle North America, a major TV production company that produces "American Idol," subjects workers to "sweatshop" conditions, a class action claims in Superior Court: "Employees work 10-, 12- and even 20-hour days, six or seven days per week, without overtime compensation" or required breaks, sometimes for "below minimum wage, and on occasions [employees] sleep in their office."

Freemantle North America is a subsidiary of London-based Freemantle Media, which produces "280 different shows and sells TV series and films in about 150 countries," according to the complaint. The complaint states that Freemantle "produces more than 1,000 hours of U.S. television."

It adds: "Frequently, the companies attempt to disguise their violations by purporting to pay employees for a 'guaranteed' 12-hour work day or 60-hour work week. Such an arrangement is, in fact, illegal and a fraudulent scheme, enabling the companies to require any amount of work, under relentless time pressures, without any additional compensation. Time records are not kept and employees are instructed to simply write 'worked' on each day's time entry. Employees are afraid to speak up about the abuses for fear of being terminated or blackballed in the industry."

Defendants include Fremantlemedia North America, Blue Orbit Productions, Kickoff Produtions, Little Pond Television, and American Idol Productions.

The named plaintiffs are Melody Murray, who was a producer for the "reality" shows "Love on the Rocks," "The Osbournes" and others; Aaron Silberman, music producer for "American Idol;" and Rosemarie DiSalvo, producer of the game show "Temptations."

They seek liquidated and punitive damages for unfair business practices and Labor Code violations. They are represented by Jonathan Biddle.

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