Judge in Gawker interns class action rejects plan for settlement notifications for opt-in plaintiffs via social media

Posted
by Charles Miller

A group of interns who filed a class action lawsuit against Gawker for violations of FLSA overtime laws have lost their bid to notify potential opt-in plaintiffs of a settlement in the case via social media. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan ruled that a proposal submitted by the Gawker interns to disseminate information about the settlement via Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms would only serve to call attention to federal labor law violations by the gossip website, not to notify eligible plaintiffs of their right to opt-in to the settlement.

Former Gawker interns Aulistar Mark and Andrew Hudson filed a class action lawsuit against the blogging site in June 2013. The lawsuit alleged that the company violated FLSA regulations by using unpaid or underpaid interns to maintain blogs run by the company. The interns’ class action lawsuit against Gawker also alleged that the company violated laws regarding minimum-wages and record-keeping.

After a settlement was reached between the interns and Gawker, attorneys for the plaintiffs submitted a plan to disseminate news of the settlement via social media. The plan included proposals to create a Facebook group called “GawkerInternLawsuit” as well as a LinkedIn group, Twitter posts with hashtags such as “#fairpay” and “#livingwage,” and Tumblr and Reddit posts to groups such as “r/OccupyWallStreet” and “r/Progressive.”

In response to the interns’ proposal, Gawker raised numerous objections with the court. The company said that the Facebook page to disseminate news about the settlement should be a page, not a group, and should not allow plaintiffs’ attorneys to add potential opt-in plaintiffs as Facebook friends. Lawyers for Gawker objected to the hashtags proposed by attorneys for the interns, stating that any hashtags besides “#gawkerinternlawsuit” would give the appearance that the court had taken a position on the merits of the class action lawsuit. The company also objected to plans to post news of the settlement on Tumblr and Reddit, stating that there was “little to be gained” from such a course.

Judge Nathan agreed with arguments by Gawker attorneys, stating that although the court had approved of a general plan to publish news of the settlement via social media, it has done so with the understanding that those communications would contain personal notifications sent to individual potential plaintiffs, not as general notices visible to the broader public.

FLSA Class Actions Filed Regarding Overtime Law Violations

The Gawker class action lawsuit is one of a number of cases regarding fair pay for interns working their way through U.S. courts. The U.S. Second Circuit is currently hearing a case filed against the Hearst Corp. and Fox Entertainment Group regarding the proper standard for determining whether an individual is an intern or an employee who is covered by federal wage laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The FLSA was passed by Congress in 1938 to ensure that employees were fairly compensated for their work. The law guarantees that non-exempt workers receive compensation for overtime hours worked and provides other protections relating to minimum wages.

Thousands of FLSA lawsuits and class action cases are filed each year by workers who allege that they were not fairly paid for their overtime work. FLSA non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week and were not paid time and a half for their overtime work may also have grounds to file a lawsuit under the FLSA against their employer.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson and Class Action Litigation

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed class action lawsuits across the country on behalf of workers and other individuals who have been harmed by the conduct of businesses. If you were the victim of FLSA violations in the workplace, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit or join an existing class action lawsuit.

All of the attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are trial lawyers in the truest sense of the term. Our firm will not hesitate to take a case all the way to court in order to achieve the best possible results for our clients. So far, the attorneys at our firm have achieved verdicts and settlements of more than $200 million on behalf of our clients.

For more information about filing a case and whether you quality, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following this link to our free case evaluation form.