People/Biz

“Love Is Blind” producer responds to contestant’s lawsuit

A contestant on the second season of the hit Netflix dating series Love Is Blind has filed a lawsuit, charging the streaming service and the show’s producers, Kinetic Content and ...
July 15, 2022

A contestant on the second season of the hit Netflix dating series Love Is Blind has filed a lawsuit, charging the streaming service and the show’s producers, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV, with a series of labor code violations.

The lawsuit, filed on June 29 in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles by former Love Is Blind contestant Jeremy Hartwell, alleges that contestants on the show were paid below minimum wage and subjected to unsafe and inhumane working conditions. The suit seeks class action status on behalf of the show’s other participants, as well as people who applied for and participated in other unscripted content produced on behalf of Netflix and Kinetic Content, or who signed a similar agreement document with Delirium TV, in California in the past four years.

Kinetic Content responded to the lawsuit with a statement sent to Realscreen on Friday (July 15). “Mr. Hartwell’s involvement in season 2 of Love Is Blind lasted less than one week,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately for Mr. Hartwell, his journey ended early after he failed to develop a significant connection with any other participant.

“While we will not speculate as to his motives for filing the lawsuit, there is absolutely no merit to Mr. Hartwell’s allegations, and we will vigorously defend against his claims.”

Realscreen has also reached out to Netflix for comment.

Love Is Blind follows 15 men and 15 women who date one another in separate pods, from which they can communicate through a speaker but can’t see one another. Couples can only meet in person after a marriage proposal is accepted. From there, the couples spend time getting to know one another in person, leading to either an on-screen marriage or break-up.

Describing the show’s production environment, Hartwell’s lawsuit contends that the defendants “regularly refused timely food and water” to the cast while they were on set, and restricted food at hotels “to the point of severe hunger.” It adds that the only drinks the defendants regularly provided to the cast were alcohol, soft drinks, energy drinks and mixers, with water “strictly limited to the cast during the day.”

The suit further states that the show’s participants were “plied with an unlimited amount of alcohol without meaningful or regular access to appropriate food and water,” and that the combination of sleep deprivation, isolation, lack of food and excess alcohol contributed to inhumane working conditions and an altered mental state for the cast.

The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of failing to provide proper compensation, including minimum wage (which is $15 per hour in California) and overtime pay. Hartwell claims that cast members were required to work up to 20 hours per day, seven days a week, for a flat weekly fee of $1,000. He also states that the contracts for the show misclassified participants as independent contractors rather than employees, because the defendants exercised “substantial and excessive control over the manner, means, and timing of the work.”

“Defendants would strongly suggest that there would be negative repercussions if the Cast refused to remain working on the production until the late hours of the night and then required them to return the next day in the early morning,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants only allowed the Cast to rest at their hotel living quarters for a few hours in between late nights on set and early morning call times. At times, Defendants left members of the Cast alone for hours at a time with no access to a phone, food, or any other type of contact with the outside world until they were required to return to working on the production.”

The lawsuit further alleges that the contracts required participants to agree that they were to pay “liquidated damages of $50,000″ if they left the series during production or otherwise breached their contract, which Hartwell describes as “an excessively large and retaliatory penalty.”

About The Author
Justin Anderson joined Realscreen as senior staff writer in 2021, reporting and writing stories for the newsletter and magazine. During his 20-year career he’s filled a variety of roles as a writer and editor at a number of media organizations, covering news and current affairs as well as business, tech, the film and music industries and plenty in between. He’s also spent time behind the scenes in television production, having written everything from voiceover scripts for documentaries to marketing copy. He has a degree in Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University).

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