Reality Show Writers Sue Fox Broadcasting

August 29, 2005 ( - Ten writers and editors for seven reality TV shows have sued Fox Broadcasting Co. and Rocket Science Laboratories for denying them meal breaks and overtime pay and requiring them to submit false time cards.

The Los Angeles Times reports that one writer, Zachary Isenberg, said that on the first day of work for the series “Renovate My Family”, his bosses requested he fill out his time sheet for the next three weeks of work. He said he worked as much as 80 hours a week and received no overtime pay.

Isenberg also told the Times that the crew of eight writers and producers worked from a small office with no air conditioning and were expected to have a working lunch at their desks.

The Writers Guild of America, West, which began a push to organize reality TV writers in June, is backing the lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Times. Guild president, Daniel Petrie, Jr. said, “These folks are doing work under appalling conditions. They’ve made a lot of contributions to the success of these shows and they deserve the protection and benefits of the union.”

The suit, which seeks class action status, alleges that Fox set the budgets for the shows and kept close control over their development while Rocket Science produced the shows. The plaintiffs are seeking back pay and unspecified damages, the Times reports.