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Netflix sued over alleged inhumane working conditions on ‘Love Is Blind’

A contestant who appeared in the second series of Netflix’s show, Love Is Blind, is suing the streaming service over an alleged breach of labour laws.

Jeremy Hartwell claimed that producers encouraged the cast to drink alcohol while limiting access to food and water and underpaying them.

Production company Kinetic Content, however, told Variety there was “absolutely no merit” to Mr Hartwell’s allegations. “We will vigorously defend the claims,” a spokesman added.

Netflix have also been contacted for comment, but they haven’t made any statement on the claims yet. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, names both Netflix and Kinetic Content as defendants, alongside Kinetic’s casting company Delirium TV.

In Love Is Blind, the candidates meet dates but cannot see each other and have to converse solely through speakers. The candidates then couple up but must get engaged before they are allowed to see each other. Some couples marry on-screen, while others break up before it gets to that stage.

Mr Hartwell told CNN in an interview at the weekend that he had to try to fight the effects of sleep deprivation after long hours filming under bright lights. He claimed that there was no access to food and water, but alcohol was readily available and actively encouraged for consumption on an empty stomach.

Mr Hartwell added that the way the cast’s luggage was searched was similar to being on a “boot camp”. The lawsuit, as reported by People, claims the cast were “regularly refused timely food and water… while on set, severely restricting the availability of hydration opportunities. Even at the hotel living quarters, food was restricted to the point of severe hunger.”

The lawsuit alleges that the contestants should have been treated as employees rather than independent contractors under California state law because producers made every decision regarding the cast’s work and how many hours they worked.

Hartwell is reportedly seeking unpaid wages, financial compensation for missed meal breaks and rest periods and some unspecified monetary damages for unfair business practices in civil penalties for labour code violations.

According to Kinetic, also behind Married at First Sight, Hartwell was in the show for less than a week “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,” the statement read. Meanwhile, Love is Blind has been recently nominated for the Emmy Award for the Outstanding Structured Reality Programme category. The ceremony will take place in September.