The production company behind Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of Atlanta will pay $411,000 in backpay to hundreds of workers who did not receive overtime pay, the New York Attorney General’s office announced Monday.
A investigation looking at practices from January 1, 2009 to the present found production assistants and associate producers for True Entertainment often worked 50 hours per week, and sometimes as many as 72 hours. But they were never paid overtime as required by law.
“My office is committed to enforcing overtime laws, which guarantee fair compensation for putting in long hours, and discourage employers from assigning extremely long workweeks,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
Production assistants and associate producers were responsible for crowd control, making travel arrangements, obtaining releases from people appearing on camera, and logging footage. These duties made them eligible for protection under federal and state overtime laws.
The Writers Guild of America, East union said it has been working with the production staff, and others in the reality TV world. “Many report working incredibly long hours without extra pay,” said Lowell Peterson, the union’s Executive Director. “The union is working with employees to negotiate enforceable contracts that guarantee time and a half pay to [associate producers] and other overtime-eligible employees for all hours above 40 in a week.”
The settlement funds will be distributed to production assistants, associate producers, and other workers who were responsible for similar tasks on the show. As part of the settlement, True Entertainment must review its other producer job duties to to see if other workers might be entitled to overtime.
The New York Attorney General’s office said additional investigations into the reality TV production industry are ongoing.