Reality show staffers have won a rare victory against TV networks and production companies, settling two long-running cases alleging unlawful working conditions for more than $4 million.
The settlement is another salvo in the WGA's ongoing battle to unionize story editors and other creatives in the nonscripted TV arena.
The dual class-action lawsuits were filed in 2005 by several hundred employees who worked in various capacities, including story editors, editors and segment producers, on such shows as "The Bachelor," "Trading Spouses," "Are You Hot?" and "The Real Gilligan's Island." They alleged that Fox, ABC, CBS and various production entities told them to forge time cards and work 18-hour days with few meal breaks.
A Los Angeles judge this week gave preliminary approval to a $2.57 million settlement with Fox Broadcasting and Rocket Science Laboratories and a $1.54 million settlement with ABC, CBS, Mike Fleiss' Next Entertainment and about six other production companies.
"I hope this settlement provides a disincentive to engage in any future employment law violations," said Emma Leheny, lead counsel for the employees. "It sends a message that this section of the television industry can't make up its own rules."