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Reality Writers File Another Suit

(Posted August 25, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

LOS ANGELES ( Ten writers and editors who worked on such unscripted shows as "Joe Millionaire" and "Married by America" are suing the FOX network and the shows' producer, claiming they were forced to work in "sweatshop" conditions.

The suit, filed Tuesday (Aug. 23) in Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses the network and Rocket Science Laboratories, the producer of the seven shows the plaintiffs worked on, of repeatedly violating California labor laws that govern overtime pay, wages and meal breaks. The suit also seeks class-action status.

"It's time for FOX and the other major broadcasting companies to step out in the light of day and end these injustices," says Writers Guild of America, west President Daniel Petrie Jr. "In this case, FOX was in direct creative control of these series and used Rocket Science Laboratories ... as a vehicle for the systemic violations of wage and hour law."

The Writers Guild began a campaign to organize producers, editors and writers on reality shows earlier this year, hoping to bring them the same guaranteed pay and benefits as writers who work on scripted comedies and dramas. The suit against FOX and Rocket Science follows a similar action last month by 12 writers who worked on such shows as "The Bachelor" and "The Starlet."

FOX and Rocket Science aren't commenting on the suit.

In addition to the two editions of "Joe Millionaire" and "Married by America," the plaintiffs worked on FOX shows "Trading Spouses," "Renovate My Family," "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" and "Seriously Dude, I'm Gay," which the network announced last year but never aired. They say they were told to falsify their time cards and were not paid overtime even though they routinely worked more than 40 hours per week.

"These men and women deserve the basic protections of fair labor standards," Petrie says. "Today we are calling on FOX and Rocket Science to give these storytellers the respect they are due."

Source: Zap2it

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