Reality show employees win wage and hour dispute

The average TV viewer in Tennessee may not realize the stress and grind of working on a television crew. However, the hours can be long and grueling, especially for those working on crews of reality TV shows where the participants are filmed throughout the day and night. Viewers may have a better appreciation for the difficult work when they learn that some reality show employees have had to fight through wage and hour disputes to get their fair share.

Reality TV is a way to entertain while exposing the public to lives that may be very different from their own. TLC's "Miami Ink," for example, follows the lives and work of tattoo artists in the resort city. The production company of the show, Original Media, apparently misclassified many employees working on the show, including associate producers and production assistants. This misclassification exempted the workers from eligibility for overtime pay despite the fact that many of them worked between 50 and 80 hours a week.

Recently, Original Media reached a settlement in which it agreed to pay the workers $282,000 in unpaid overtime since Jan. 2009. This makes three settlements from three different reality show producers that failed to correctly classify and pay their employees. In fact, at least one union in the entertainment industry has organized a campaign to bring such wage theft into the spotlight.

While Tennessee workers may not have the support of fans across the country when they face wage and hour disputes, they do have the support of the law. Workers who feel they are misclassified and denied the opportunity to receive overtime pay they have earned have the right to seek assistance from a legal professional. An attorney who is skilled in employment law can help them determine the best course of action for claiming their just due.

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