Jeremy Hartwell, a season two contestant on the hit Netflix dating show Love Is Blind, filed a lawsuit against the streaming service, as well as the show's production and casting companies — Kinetic Content and Delirium TV — alleging “inhumane” working conditions, according to Variety. Filed on July 29, Hartwell describes the 30 cast members being deprived of water and food, in favor of alcohol and dehydrating beverages, having their phones confiscated and being paid below minimum wage.
Hartwell, who directs a mortgage company in Chicago, claimed that he spent several days in recovery from the physical demands of the show after filming wrapped prior to the February 2022 premiere. In his complaint, Hartwell details that the cast members were often left alone with no contact to the outside world. This is all while "the combination of sleep deprivation, isolation, lack of food and an excess of alcohol all either required, enabled or encouraged by defendants contributed to inhumane working conditions and altered mental state for the cast."
For the tumultuous conditions, the compensation felt far from fair. Haltwell alleges that the contestants, who spent up to 20 hours a day filming for seven days a week, received a flat payment of $1,000 a week amounting to about $7.14 per hour. The lawsuit points out that minimum wage is $15 per hour in Los Angeles County.
As the show looked to create dramatic moments for cast members meant to fall in love with the ultimate goal of marriage, Chantal Payton, an attorney from Payment Employment Law that is representing Hartwell, describes the underpayment and conditions as “intentional” to make the cast “hungry for social connections” and to alter “their emotions and decision-making.” Other alleged manipulation tactics include an initial contract contestants signed, agreeing to pay $50,000 in “damages” if they didn’t complete filming.
Filing on behalf of over 100 individuals, including the cast and other affected employees, Hartwell’s class-action suit seeks the repayment of unpaid wages, monetary compensation for the inability to rest or have meals and additional financial compensation for abusive practices and civil penalties for violations to the labor code.
The lawsuit has yet to slow down the Emmy award-winning reality show, as season three is expected to drop on Netflix this year. The other defendant, Kinetic Content, is also behind Netflix’s new dating show released this year, The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, as well as Married at First Sight, which was created in 2014 and now streams on Netflix. As contestants continue to look for love on reality TV, Hartwell’s lawsuit might at least serve as a warning that dating shows don’t always have a happy ending.
Photo via Getty/ Chesnot
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