Love Is Blind contestant Jeremy Hartwell is suing Netflix, producers

A second-season contestant of Netflix reality series Love Is Blind is suing the show’s streamer and producers, accusing them of a range of labor law violations, including promoting “inhumane working conditions” and paying cast members below minimum wage .

The lawsuit, filed by Jeremy Hartwell, alleges that the producers of “Love Is Blind” fed alcohol to the cast and deprived them of food and water — while paying rates below the Los Angeles County minimum wage. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in LA, names Netflix, production company Kinetic Content and Kinetic casting company Delirium TV as defendants.

diversity has reached out to Netflix and Kinetic Content for comment.

Hartwell, who is a director of a mortgage company in Chicago, claims he spent several days recovering from the effects of sleep deprivation, lack of access to food and water, and copious amounts of alcohol that were provided to him. Love Is Blind Season 2 premiered on Netflix in February 2022.

According to the lawsuit, the “Love Is Blind” contestants should have been classified as employees under California law and not independent contractors because the producers dictated the timing, manner and means of their work. During production, the producers paid the contestants a flat rate of $1,000 a week — though they were forced to work up to 20 hours a day, seven days a week. That works out to just $7.14 an hour, well below the Los Angeles County minimum wage of at least $15 an hour, according to the complaint.

The show’s producers “deliberately underpaid the cast, deprived them of food, water and sleep, doused them with alcohol, and cut them off from personal contact and most of the outside world. This left the performers hungry for social connection and transformed their emotions and decision-making,” said attorney Chantal Payton of Payton Employment Law, the LA-based law firm representing Hartwell.

Hartwell’s lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of all participants in “Love Is Blind” and other unscripted productions created by the defendants over the past four years. Payton Employment Law estimates the potential size of the plaintiff class at more than 100 people.

According to Hartwell’s lawsuit, the show’s contracts required that contestants agree that if they left the show before filming was complete, they would have to pay $50,000 in “lump-sum liquidated damages.” The lawsuit alleges that the reality show’s cast “either have a real fear of retaliation and damage to their reputation if they go against the orders of those who hold the purse strings, or they are aware of their rights.” unaware”.

Payton said in a statement from his attorneys, “Reality show production and casting companies exercise far more control over contestants than the law allows for a worker to truly be considered an independent contractor, particularly on shows where Actors are said to be looking for love.”

In addition to Love Is Blind, Kinetic Content also produces the reality shows The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, which debuted on Netflix this year, and Married at First Sight, which originated in 2014 and continues to air on Lifetime and streams on Netflix.

In “Love Is Blind”, the contestants – 15 men and 15 women – meet in separate “pods” with their dates and talk over loudspeakers without being able to see each other. Two contestants must become engaged before they are allowed to meet face-to-face, resulting in an on-screen wedding for some contestants and a wedding-day breakup for others. “Love Is Blind” just received a nomination for the 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards for the structured reality program (and received two Emmys nominations in 2020) and has spawned Brazilian and Japanese versions.

Season 3 of Love Is Blind, filmed in Dallas, is scheduled for release on Netflix later this year.

“The combination of sleep deprivation, isolation, lack of food and excess alcohol, all of which were either required, enabled or encouraged by the defendants, contributed to the inhumane working conditions and altered mental health of the cast,” Hartwell’s complaint reads. “Sometimes the accused would leave members of the cast alone for hours without access to a phone, food or any other type of contact with the outside world until they had to return to production.”

Hartwell’s lawsuit seeks unpaid wages, monetary compensation for missed meal breaks and rest periods, unspecified monetary compensation for unfair business practices, and civil penalties for violations of the Labor Code.

The lawsuit was filed June 29 in the Superior Court of California for the District of Los Angeles. The case number is 22STCV1223.

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