Music Industry’s 1st Intern Pay Suit Filed Against Warner Music, Atlantic Records

Share Article

Intern Justice, Leeds Brown Law PC and Virginia & Ambinder LLP file a proposed class action law suit in New York State Supreme Court against Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records on behalf of unpaid interns.

A former unpaid intern at Atlantic Records claims the legendary record company required him to work full-time over eight months without pay, often 10 hours a day, according to a proposed class-action law suit filed today in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

This is the first unpaid internship lawsuit to be filed against a music industry business, according to lawyers involved in suit, which alleges that Atlantic Records and its parent, Warner Music Group Corp. violated New York State Labor law by requiring the intern, Justin Henry, of Brooklyn, to work full time without pay.

Henry was an intern in 2007 for Atlantic engaged in filing, faxing, answering phones and fetching lunch for paid employees, according to the suit.

Henry’s lawyers, Maurice S. Pianko, founder of New York-based Intern Justice; Lloyd Ambinder, managing partner of New York-based Virginia & Ambinder LLP, and Jeffrey K. Brown, senior partner of Leeds Brown Law P.C., contend that Henry’s internship existed solely for the benefit of Atlantic Records, and that Henry received no training or mentorship.

Unpaid internships must exist for training purposes and employers may derive “no immediate advantage” from the work provided by interns, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.

“Unpaid interns are 'employees' under New York labor law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and they are eligible to sue for unpaid wages going back six years,” said Brown.

“College students and recent graduates are amongst the most vulnerable workers. They are desperate to gain employment, and will often accept any work without compensation in the hope of one day gaining fulltime employment with a company,” said Ambinder.

This is the second lawsuit filed by Intern Justice as part of its “Fair Wage Summer” campaign. Last month, Pianko filed a suit on behalf of a former unpaid “apprentice” who worked for fashion designer Norma Kamali (U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 13-cv-03594). He said Intern Justice expects to file more lawsuits in the coming weeks.

“In addition to these unpaid internships being exploitative, unethical, and often illegal from a policy perspective, unpaid internships are a bad thing: they usually displace a paid worker and they rob the government of much needed tax revenue,” Pianko said. “These unpaid internships create a barrier to job-market entry for those from the most severely disadvantaged socioeconomic groups.”

Lenard Leeds, also a partner in Leeds Brown, said: “There is no doubt that Justin Henry performed valuable services while he was at Atlantic Records, and we think he deserves to be paid for providing these services. We are confident that a jury will agree.”

Henry is seeking to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime, as well as attorney’s fees. Atlantic could have likely avoided the lawsuit had it paid Henry the then-minimum wage of $7.15 per hour, Pianko said.

The lawsuit comes just days after a judge found that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated labor laws when it used unpaid interns for production tasks on "Black Swan," the 2010 film starring Natalie Portman. The decision in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, Case No. 11 Civ. 6784) was handed down June 11, according to a court filing.

Atlantic Records is home to such music acts as Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa, Phil Collins and James Blunt. In the past, the company has posted ads for interns for a variety of specialties, including Web design, e-commerce, quality assurance and digital marketing.

The case is: Justin Henry, et. al v. Warner Music Group Corp. and Atlantic Recording Corp., New York State Supreme Court, Manhattan. No. 155527/2013. The complaint can be found online.

About Intern Justice                                            
Intern Justice is a national clearinghouse formed founded by attorney Maurice Pianko to enable current and former unpaid interns across the country to come forward and demand back pay. Regardless of the value of the case, no current or former intern has ever been turned away from Intern Justice. Since its inception, Intern Justice has focused squarely on the plight of unpaid interns all across the country and world. For more information about Intern Justice, which handles individual cases and class actions, go to or email

About Leeds Brown Law, P.C.
Based in Carle Place, NY, Leeds Brown Law, P.C. is a New York City area law firm dedicated to providing the highest quality guidance and representation to clients with concerns involving a broad range of legal practice areas. Over the last two decades, the firm’s attorneys have become widely known and respected – in New York and across the U.S. – for their ability to litigate complex legal issues effectively, and for the outstanding results the firm has achieved, particularly in the areas of employment law, civil rights, discrimination and sexual harassment. For more information call 1-800-585 4658 or visit [

About Virginia & Ambinder, LLP
Attorneys at the New York City law firm of Virginia & Ambinder, LLP have made it their mission to assist underpaid and mistreated employees in New York, New Jersey, and throughout the United States. With over 20 years of experience in the field, the firm has consistently provided focused, dedicated representation to thousands of workers in hundreds of wage and hour class action cases—holding employers accountable for unlawful wage and hour abuses, including overtime and prevailing wage violations. For more information, call (212) 943-9080 or visit


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Alan J. Wax
WaxWords Incorporated
(631) 574-4433
Email >

Jeffrey K. Brown
Follow us on