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Former unpaid intern files suit against Clippers, Sterling trust

Former unpaid intern files suit against Clippers, Sterling trust
An aerial view of Staples Center and L.A. Live campus in a 2010 file photo. A former intern is suing the Sterling Family Trust, claiming he should have been paid for work he performed as a Clippers intern. (John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times)

A former intern for the Los Angeles Clippers has filed a federal lawsuit against the Sterling Family Trust, claiming the team violated labor laws by not paying interns.

Frank Cooper alleges that he regularly logged 40- to 50-hour work weeks as an unpaid fan relations intern for two months in fall 2012 and frequently performed the same tasks as paid employees.

The suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, claims Cooper staffed fan booths at Staples Center, organized basketball clinics with fans, supervised autograph sessions with players and mailed out season tickets. He is seeking back pay, damages and attorney's fees.

Maurice Pianko, Cooper's attorney, said he has been speaking to other former Clippers interns and expects several others to join the suit.

"Many, many employers are simply misclassifying their workers, calling them interns and therefore feeling they are absolved from paying them," Pianko said.

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An attorney for the Sterling trust did not return a call seeking comment.

Cooper is just the latest former intern taking action against employers over unpaid internships.

Former interns on the 2010 film "Black Swan" have brought a class-action suit against Fox Searchlight Pictures and other units of Fox Entertainment Group seeking back pay and damages.

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