Fox Searchlight claims it never employed the two 'Black Swan' interns who are suing them.

Alex Footman, 24, and Eric Glatt, 42, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan last month alleging that Fox Searchlight violated minimum wage and overtime laws and failed to provide training similar to what would be given in an educational institution, but the company says director Darren Aronofsky's production company first hired the interns.

Fox Searchlight said in a statement: "Now that we have had a chance to review this suit, it is clear that these are completely meritless claims aimed solely at getting press coverage for the litigants and their attorneys. These interns were not even retained by Fox Searchlight and, in fact, were working for the production company that made 'Black Swan' well before Fox Searchlight even acquired its rights in the film.

"These individuals were never employed as interns or retained in any capacity by Fox Searchlight, which has a proud history of supporting and fostering productive internships. We look forward to aggressively fighting these groundless, opportunistic accusations."

The lawsuit -through which the plaintiffs are seeking back pay for their work on the movie - states: "Fox Searchlight's unpaid interns are a crucial labour force on its productions, functioning as production assistants and bookkeepers and performing secretarial and janitorial work. In misclassifying many of its workers as unpaid interns, Fox Searchlight has denied them The Benefits that the law affords to employees."

'Black Swan' - about a ballet dancer who is slowly losing her mind - earned Natalie Portman an Oscar for her leading performance.