Taking legal action. After appearing on season 2 of Love Is Blind, Jeremy Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix and the producers, making a series of allegations about how the show treated cast members.
“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, claimed in a statement on Wednesday, July 13. “The contracts required contestants to agree that if they left the show before filming was done, they would be penalized 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.”
Hartwell’s 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, per the Chicago native’s legal team.
In the court documents obtained by Us Weekly, Hartwell alleged that “the only drinks that [the show] regularly provided to the cast were alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, energy drinks and mixers,” further claiming that “hydrating drinks such as water were strictly limited to the cast during the day.”
The docs suggest that the series “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 Love Is Blind.
The paperwork further mentions the cast’s inability to contact their family or friends upon arrival, which is not uncommon 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 docs read.
Lawyer Holmes alleged that “the exploitative working conditions served to control the participants’ conduct and elicited irrational behavior for entertainment value in the final project.”
The salary was also called into question, with the suit alleging Love Is Blind contestants earned $1,000 per week, up to $8,000 for the length of the production — 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 docs 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 was among the 30 cast members selected for season 2 of Love Is Blind, which started streaming earlier this year, but he failed to get engaged and ultimately wasn’t featured after the group moved out of the pods phase of the show.
Us Weekly has reached out to Netflix and Kinetic Content for comment.