A former cast member of Love Is Blind, a hit reality dating show from Netflix has filed suit against the show’s producers and its home streamer in Los Angeles Superior Court. He alleges that the show’s on-camera talent was mistreated with extremely long work hours, low pay and even deprivation of food and water.

Jeremy Hartwell was on the show for the first half of the season where participants have blind meetups with each other and did not advance to the second half where they then pair off and decide whether or not to get engaged by the end of the show. Hartwell has minimal screen time in the season, as he did not end up getting engaged.

He is seeking class-action status in the suit for all participants in Love is Blind and other shows, which could mean the plaintiff pool will rise to over 100. Hartwell said that Netflix got away with paying them less by hiring the contestants as independent contractors rather than full employees. He claims they worked up to 20 hours a day for seven days a week, and only earned a flat rate of $1000 per week with no overtime. If the hours Hartwell outlined are accurate, they earned as little as $7 per hour.

He also claimed that the cast was emotionally manipulated by being plied with alcohol which was more readily available than basic food and water, and became intensely sleep-deprived. Hartwell’s attorney Chantal Payton added in a statement that isolation from other contacts “made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making.”

Hartwell told The Daily Beast that he felt like he was in an “out-of-body experience” due to sleep deprivation after filming for a week in 2021. “I would hear myself saying things that were contrary to what I was thinking at the time. After the production, I felt and looked like a zombie for a few days,” he added.

Contestants were also allegedly locked into these unsafe conditions because they would have to pay $50,000 in “liquidated damages” if they decided to depart the show before filming was completed. Hartwell and Payton said the producers sowed a “genuine fear of retaliation and harm to their reputation for any resistance to the orders,” among the cast.

Hartwell first filed the suit at the end of June and is seeking unpaid wages and additional compensation for violated meal breaks and rest periods, along with additional monetary damages relating to other labor violations he is accusing the production of. The show’s producers and their operating company Kinetic Media have yet to issue a formal response.

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