Wang v. Hearst Corp.


New York Law Journal


Judge Harold Baer

Hearst allegedly used unpaid and underpaid interns at certain magazines. It purportedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law by denying the interns minimum, overtime, and spread of hour wages, and by taking deductions violating the state law. The court conditionally certified an "intern class" of unpaid and underpaid interns, and a "deductions class" of interns receiving college credit for their internships. Hearst's "good faith" defense sought avoidance of liquidated damages pursuant to FLSA §260. Granting plaintiffs' motion, the court ordered Hearst's production of discovery related to its good faith defense. Discussing the Second Circuit's 1991 and 2008 rulings in United States v. Bilzerian and In re County of Erie, it found Hearst's good faith defense raised the possibility of implied waiver of the attorney-client privilege. The court found it "difficult to imagine" that—despite claims to the contrary—such a defense would not involve advice from Hearst's legal department. The possibility of legal department involvement was increased by plaintiffs' deposition suggesting that Hearst's personnel department did not know why the magazines required the interns to submit school credit letters.

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