NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — John McBride and Blackbird Studios were found guilty of retaliation Friday, sources tell FOX 17 News.
Country singer Martina McBride and her husband, John McBride, were hit with a lawsuit alleging that unpaid interns were performing personal errands for them. They're also accused of firing the employee who reported them to federal authorities.
The case was heard in federal court this week and John McBride and Blackbird Studios were found guilty of retaliation. The jury found liability and overall economic exposure could total close to half a million dollars.
The jury ended up awarding Hanson $100,000 in compensatory damages, $59,000 in back pay and $59,000 in liquidated damages at the Judge's discretion.
Fired employee and former operations manager Rich Hanson sued the McBrides and Blackbird Studios, a renowned studio in Berry Hill. He claims after reporting alleged illegal business practices to federal authorities – he was fired. In the lawsuit, Hanson said the unpaid interns had to get groceries for Martina McBride, pick up and deliver food orders and at one time, even check for a possible intruder. Hanson reported the alleged activity to the U.S. Department of Labor and was later fired.
“When he observed the exploitation of unpaid interns and other employees, Mr. Hanson refused to remain silent and consequently was wrongly terminated,” said attorney Brian Winfrey. “We believe the jury’s verdict was fair, and are pleased that they recognized the impact the defendants’ retaliation had on Mr. Hanson’s life.”
Hanson brought the suit for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Tennessee Public Protection Act.
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