More than 20 real estate interns have filed lawsuits against real estate agents in the United States, Canada and England seeking to recover unpaid wages and compensation for their work.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a group of interns in each of the three countries, argues that the companies are violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by underpaying them.
“These real estate brokers and real estate employees are paying a premium to the workers who work for them, but at the same time, are underpaying the interns who are working for them,” said Jessica Breen, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.
“The real estate industry should not be making such a big deal out of the unpaid wages it’s paying the interns,” she said.
The complaint says that between January 1, 2016 and the date of the lawsuit filed Monday, at least three real estate recruiters in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom have paid unpaid interns a total of $2.9 million.
It adds that at least $300,000 has been paid to interns in New York.
The interns say they are owed $10,000, $15,000 and $20,000 each.
They are seeking a total amount of $300 million, according to the lawsuit.
The real-estate industry is under fire in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which saw multiple women come forward with allegations that the Hollywood mogul had inappropriate contact with them when they were interns.
It also sparked a wave of resignations, suspensions and firings in the industry, prompting more than a dozen lawsuits and the resignation of the former chief executive of the UBS Wealth Management Group.
In the U, the Fair Work Act (FWA) was passed in 2016, making it illegal for employers to underpay workers, including unpaid interns, and requires employers to compensate interns for the time they spend on the job.