A group of writers have filed a lawsuit against producers of TV reality shows, accusing them of violating California’s labor laws.
The suit is designed to increase the pressure on producers to bend on an industry-wide contract with those who “write” unscripted shows.
The suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that writers, have experienced “sweatshop” conditions, often working up to 80-hour weeks without receiving extra pay.
The lawsuit was filed in the name of 12 writers against several production companies, including Telepictures Productions Inc., a unit of Warner Bros. that produced “The Bachelor,” and Syndicated Productions, producer of “Are You Hot?” and Dawn Syndicated Productions Inc., producer of “The Real Gilligans Island.”
Networks such as ABC, CBS, WB and Turner Broadcasting System Inc. were also named in the suit.
The lawsuit claims that the defendants followed identical payroll practices, including requiring writers to submit fake time cards that did not properly reflect the hours they worked in the week.
The suit requests payment of unpaid wages, civil penalties and punitive damages.
Representatives of CBS, the WB, Next Entertainment Inc. and Telepictures refused to comment.
“What we’re responding to is conditions that outrage the conscience,” said Daniel Petrie Jr., president of the Writers Guild of America, west, which assisted in filing the lawsuit.
Last month, the guild sent letters to reality TV production companies demanding they provide union wages and benefits to people who go through hours of footage to craft together story lines.