Martina McBride and her husband, John McBride, are being sued for $1 million, plus back pay, benefits, front pay and other damages by a former employee, Richard Hanson. Hanson, who was employed by the McBrides at their Blackbird Studios from 2012 to 2017, and headed the company's internship program, claims Martina and John forced the interns to do menial tasks, and that he was fired after reporting his claims to the Department of Labor.
According to Fox News, the court documents allege the unpaid interns were required to do work not associated with the studio, including grocery shopping and cleaning the bathroom.
"Defendants’ regularly required its unpaid interns to clean bathrooms and other areas of Blackbird Studios," the documents maintain. "Requiring unpaid interns to clean bathrooms and other areas cut Defendants’ labor costs for cleaning and custodial services."
Hanson further alleges that John sent two interns to his house when he thought there was an intruder, along with a gun
"One of the interns, who did not know or receive training on how to safely operate a firearm, was handed a loaded gun to perform this security-related task," claims Hanson.
The McBrides vehemently deny all the charges against them.
“Blackbird Studios cooperated with the Department of Labor and they found this claim was not supported by the facts,” Martina says (quote via Nashville's Tennessean). “John and I have created a culture at Blackbird that is familial and supportive of everyone who walks through its doors.”
Hanson also accuses the McBrides of using the interns solely as a means of free labor.
“It appeared that the primary beneficiaries of (the McBride’s) internship program were (the McBrides) rather than the unpaid interns,” Hanson said. “Defendants made clear to (Hanson) that its unpaid internship program was a means to get free labor that it would otherwise have to pay employees to perform.”
Blackbird Studio has been home to some of the biggest artists in music, including Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Kelly Clarkson and Kenny Chesney, among others.
Martina's latest album, Reckless, was released in 2016. The 51-year-old released her first cookbook, Around the Table: Recipes and Inspiration for Gatherings Throughout the Year in 2014, and will release her second one, Martina's Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life, on Oct. 30.0comments
Martina has plenty of concerts scheduled over the next several months. Find dates and venue information at MartinaMcBride.com.
Photo Credit: Instragram/martinamcbride