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Winning, so far, in trial court, Hearst wants 2nd Circuit to clarify intern issue after new ruling

Posted Jun 18, 2013 1:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In an unusual effort to obtain federal appellate court clarification, Hearst Corp., which has been successfully defending a case over the use of unpaid interns in its publishing ventures, is supporting the plaintiffs in their request for an interlocutory appeal of a recent trial court ruling, Reuters reports.

In a Friday motion, Hearst said it won't oppose an effort by the plaintiffs in the case to seek immediate review by the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of a May ruling by U.S. District Judge Harold Baer. He held that whether Hearst interns were in fact employees is a question for trial and declined to certify a class action.

A divergent ruling in June on the same issue in another Southern District of New York case involving a different company resulted in the unusual agreement among opposing parties in the Hearst case that a mid-trial appeal is appropriate. U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled in a summary judgment motion last week that Fox Entertainment Group's unpaid interns were in fact employees and certified a class action.

"Hearst submits that an in-district split with respect to the legal standard in two cases proceeding concurrently justifies immediate review by the Second Circuit," the company wrote in its motion. The filing, however, called the plaintiffs' critique of Baer's decision "baseless."

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