Dating reality show ‘Love Is Blind’ Season 2 star Jeremy Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix and the series’ producers, saying that the cast was mistreated while filming the show.
“They intentionally underpaid the cast members, deprived them of food, water and sleep, plied them with booze and cut off their access to personal contacts and most of the outside world. This made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making,” Hartwell’s attorney, Chantal Payton of Payton Employment Law, PC, of Los Angeles, said in a statement provided to Page Six.
“The contracts required contestants to agree that if they left the show before filming was done, they would be penalised by being required to pay $50,000 in ‘liquidated damages.'”
“With that being 50 times what some of the cast members would earn during the entire time that they worked, this certainly had the potential to instill fear in the cast and enable production to exert even further control.”
According to Hartwell’s legal team, his lawsuit serves as “a proposed class action on behalf of all participants in ‘Love Is Blind’ and other non-scripted productions” created by Kinetic Content from 2018 to 2022.
In court documents obtained by Page Six, Hartwell, 36, alleged that “the only drinks that (the show) regularly provided to the cast were alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, energy drinks and mixers.”
The Chicago native further claimed that “hydrating drinks such as water were strictly limited to the cast during the day.”
Additionally, the docs allege that ‘Love Is Blind’ contributed to “inhumane working conditions and altered mental state for the cast” through a “combination of sleep deprivation, isolation, lack of food and an excess of alcohol all either required, enabled or encouraged” by the production.
Hartwell further claimed in court docs that contestants were unable to contact loved ones during filming – even though that is commonplace for many reality competition series.
“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,” the documents read.
“The exploitative working conditions served to control the participants’ conduct and elicited irrational behaviour for entertainment value in the final project.”
It is also said in the suit that ‘Love Is Blind’ Season 2 participants earned $1,000 per week, up to $8,000, for the duration of filming. This amount is allegedly less than minimum wage for the number of hours worked.
“Defendants failed and continue to fail to compensate Class Members and Aggrieved Employees for all hours worked, including minimum wage and overtime hours, as a result of maintaining a practice of requiring Class Members and Aggrieved Employees to work up to twenty (20) hour days, seven days per week, while paying them a flat amount of $1,000.00 per filming week,” the documents state.
“Resultantly, these workers were effectively (paid) as little $7.14 per hour which is less than half of the applicable minimum wage rate of $15.00 per hour, less than one-third of the minimum overtime rate of $22.50 per hour, and less than one-fourth of the minimum double-time rate of $30.00 per hour pursuant to the applicable Los Angeles City and County minimum wage ordinances.”
Hartwell appeared on ‘Love Is Blind’ alongside 29 other singles looking for a potential spouse. He did not get engaged and was not featured on the show past its signature pods phase.
Despite his grievances, Hartwell promoted the show’s sophomore installment close to its February 11 premiere.
“Filming for Love is Blind was one of the most intense and memorable events of my life and thanks to journaling and reflection, it remains an experience that I’m at peace with, regardless of the ups and downs,” he wrote in one post.