Reporting Shannon Carlin
A woman who interned for Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment is filing a class action suit against the company claiming she is owed backpay.
The suit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court yesterday (Aug. 20), claims that Bad Boy, along with its parent company Universal Music Group, violated minimum-wage laws by using interns as regular employees, according to the New York Daily News.
In court filings, Rashida Salaam says while interning for the company from January 2012 to May 2012, she received no training and performed work that paid employees could have otherwise done, such as answering phones, getting coffee, booking trips for Diddy and preparing expense reports. Diddy himself is not personally named in the suit because as Salaam states, he did not manage her personally.
“I’m not suing for any type of animosity,” said the 26-year-old Brooklyn woman. “I have no animosity against Bad Boy. But I was taken advantage of as far as wages go. I was naive.”
Though Salaam agreed to be classified as an unpaid intern or trainee, her lawyer says a worker has the “right to make a claim for unpaid wages” and that when an interns receives no wages “the primary recipient of the benefits should be the intern — not the company.”
Salaam’s lawsuit seeks back wages plus interest for the hours that she and her peers worked. The amount will be determined at trial.
The suit estimates that more than 500 people who interned at Bad Boy from August 2007 to today should be eligible to join the claim. However, some previous Bad Boy interns, such as Terrell Taylor, CEO of the live music promotion company Positive Entertainment, did not feel wronged or owed. Terrell wrote in 2011 that though he started out as an unpaid intern, by working hard and networking he was able to earn a paid intern position at Bad Boy. Diddy also started out as an intern for New York’s Uptown Records, before rising to Vice President of the label two years later.
In court papers, Salaam, who is “currently between jobs,” says she worked three to four days a week from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. or later and was given a $40 stipend for travel.
“Money doesn’t mean anything to me,” Salaam said. “I’m taking this risk for all the interns out there.”
In the last few years, lawsuits from unpaid publishing interns have become common. In June, two former interns of W Magazine and the New Yorker filed a suit against Conde Nast publications claiming the company failed to pay them minimum wage.
But the music business also relies heavily on interns who work for nearly nothing. In the last year, suits have been filed against Atlantic Records, Warner Bros, Sony and with former interns claiming their internships with these companies “did not provide academic or vocational training,” but instead menial office work for no pay.
Bad Boy Entertainment and Universal Music Group have yet to comment on the lawsuit.