A contestant on the Netflix dating show “Love is Blind” is suing the streaming service for being forced to film drunk, hungry and sleep-deprived.
Jeremy Hartwell is suing Netflix and production company Kinetic Content for “inhumane working conditions” and paying cast members less than minimum wage. Insider first reported the legal action earlier this week.
Hartwell told CNN that cast members were effectively placed into isolation for 24 hours on their arrival and had all their personal items taken away, and were made to wait hours for water or food. Alcohol though, was always available, the lawsuit alleged.
“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,” Hartwell said in his complaint.
“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.”
According to the reports, the lawsuit states that Hartwell and other season two contestants were paid a flat rate of $1,000 a week, but had to work 20 hours a day. That, Hartwell said, amounted to $7.14 an hour, or less than half the $15 minimum wage for Los Angeles.
The lawsuit reportedly states that any cast member that decided to quit the show before shooting was completed would have to pay $50,000 in “damages.”
Hartwell’s attorney Chantal Payton, of Payton Employment Law in Los Angeles, told CNN the lack of food and isolation “made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making.”
“You see cast members constantly have an alcoholic beverage in their hands or within arm’s reach and they are shown drinking a lot more than eating, and there are instances of individuals being visibly drunk,” the lawyer told Insider.
Hartwell is seeking unpaid wages, financial compensation for missed meal breaks, damages for unfair business practices and civil penalties for labor code violations. The suit was filed on behalf of all contestants and staff, the publications reported.
Kinetic told Variety in a statement: “Mr Hartwell’s involvement in Season 2 of ‘Love is Blind’ lasted less than one week. 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.”
Netflix and Kinetic didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.