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Actor Charlie Sheen Sued by Former Employee for Breach of Employment Contract and Unpaid Wages in Los Angeles

Emanuel Shirazi

Charlie Sheen is being sued by Keith Fitzgerald (a former employee) for over $1 million in damages. The causes of action in the complaint include breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, quantum merit, failure to pay wages and overtime in violation of the California labor code, and waiting time penalties. The lawsuit was filed in April 2015 in Federal Court in Los Angeles and the company “9th Step Productions, Inc.” is also named as a Defendant.

Upon hire in 2013, Fitzgerald alleges his employment agreement was for $300,000 a year and that he would receive a 20% incentive bonus and medical benefits. Though his contract was for 3 years—Fitzgerald was fired (with no explanation) after only 5 months of working for Sheen. Fitzgerald claims he was not paid at all for any of the services he performed within that five month time period (though he failed to specify exactly what services he provided for Sheen.) Basically, Fitzgerald is suing for the value of the 3 year contract, overtime, and some Labor Code penalties.

Though Sheen is no stranger to the courtroom, do you think Sheen made and broke this contract or do you think this is another example of someone taking advantage of a celebrity’s wealth and status?

For more celebrity wage lawsuits read more here: Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, LeAnn Rimes, Sharon Stone, Alanis Morissette.

Important terms:

Breach of employment contract: Most employees are at-will employees and don’t have any contract of employment for any specific time period. But, some employees are given employment contracts for specific periods of time in which they cannot be fired without cause. If such employment contracts are breached by the employer, it is responsible for paying the employee up to the whole amount due under the duration of the contract.

Overtime: Under California law, most non-exempt employees must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week and over 8 hours in any day. Overtime is paid at 1.5 times an employee’s regular rate of pay.

Waiting time penalties: California’s Labor Code provides penalties against employers who do not timely pay their employees all their wages. This penalty can be for up to 6 weeks (30 work days) of pay.

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