‘Love Is Blind’ contestant sues Netflix over ‘inhumane working conditions’

Forms “Love is blindContestant Jeremy Hartwell sues Netflixclaiming that the company violated a number of labor laws.

Hartwell, a director of a Chicago mortgage company who appeared in the show’s second season, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in June. according to CBS News. He accused Netflix of creating “inhumane working conditions” on set and providing actors with large amounts of alcohol while refusing food, water and adequate pay.

“For me, it’s a matter of fairness, not money,” Hartwell said. by CNN.

“I firmly believe that these practices are wrong and need to be changed. And the reason I’m making that effort with this lawsuit is because I hope it will be the catalyst for that change so that future reality TV contestants don’t have to go through this.”

Hartwell also named the show’s staff, production company Kinetic Content, and casting company Delirium TV as defendants. The lawsuit alleged that employees misclassified members as independent contractors to save money by denying them overtime and minimum wage.

Hartwell said the participants typically worked 20-hour days, seven days a week for $1,000 a week. A quick look at the math shows that this works out to $7.14 an hour—less than half of Los Angeles County’s $15 minimum wage.

show background, meanwhile, was ingenious: 30 single men and women are placed in capsules that allow them to speak but not see their potential partner on the other side. Those who become engaged are sent on a honeymoon before introducing their partner to their families and deciding whether to marry or not.

Fresh drinks on Netflix 2020 "Love is blind" VIP party in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fresh drinks at Netflix’s 2020 Love Is Blind VIP Party in Atlanta, Georgia.

Marcus Ingram via Getty Images

However, Hartwell’s lawyer Chantal Payton told CNN that the staff would deliberately withhold food so that “actors would crave social connection and change their emotions and decision-making”. Hartwell said the staff constantly reminded the members not to talk to each other during the trip to the closed set.

He also said they had their wallets, ID cards, passports and mobile phones confiscated upon arrival, when they were locked in their rooms for 24 hours straight – with a meager and infrequent supply of water. The alcohol added by Hartwell was freely available.

“The combination of sleep deprivation, isolation, lack of food, and excess alcohol—everything that was required, permitted, or encouraged by the defendants—contributed to inhumane working conditions and a change in the mental state of the actors,” the lawsuit says.

Hartwell said he hopes his potential class action lawsuit on behalf of his fellow members will change that practice. But Kinetic Content told CNN in a statement Saturday that the lawsuit is unfounded.

“Mr. Hartwell’s participation in Season 2 of ‘Love Is Blind’ lasted less than one week,” a spokesman for the production company said. “Unfortunately for Mr. Hartwell, his journey ended early after he failed to establish a meaningful communication with any other participant.

The spokesperson added that Kinetic Content would not want to speculate about Hartwell’s motives in filing a lawsuit that had “absolutely no basis.” The production company concluded its statement by warning that it would “strongly defend itself against these claims.”