Martina McBride, Husband John McBride, Blackbird Studio Face Lawsuit Over Alleged Mistreatment of Unpaid Interns
Martina McBride and her husband, recording engineer John McBride, along with their renowned recording complex, Blackbird Studio, are being sued by former Blackbird Studio Operations Manager Richard Hanson. The lawsuit alleges that the couple treated unpaid interns unfairly over the course of the five years that Hanson worked for them.
Hanson claims that unpaid interns were subjected to unfair treatment and forced to run an array of personal errands for the McBrides, including grocery shopping and cleaning bathrooms. He also alleges that, in once instance, an intern was asked to respond to a possible intruder at the couple's home and given a handgun to take along, even though the intern had no experience with firearms, according to the Tennessean.
Blackbird Studio serves as a recording home for major names, including Alabama, Ed Sheeran, the White Stripes and Taylor Swift. The McBrides deny the charges made against them.
“Blackbird Studios cooperated with the Department of Labor, and they found this claim was not supported by the facts," Martina McBride says in a press release. "John and I have created a culture at Blackbird that is familial and supportive of everyone who walks through its doors.”
Hanson says that he spoke to the McBrides about the illegal working conditions, but when he received no response, he filed his lawsuit. John McBride reportedly fired Hanson an hour after he notified the couple of the case.
"It appeared that the primary beneficiaries of [the McBride's] internship program were [the McBrides] rather than the unpaid interns," Hanson states in his lawsuit. "Defendants made clear to [Hanson] that its unpaid internship program was a means to get free labor that it would otherwise have to pay employees to perform."
Hanson says that the McBrides' actions violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, and that his firing violated the Tennessee Public Protection Act, as he claims it was done in retaliation. He is suing for $1 million in addition to back pay, benefits, front pay and other damages.
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