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

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.

*image by David Zellaby, Flickr  

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NFL’s Bills Cheerleaders Sue for Minimum Wages

When Alyssa first joined the Buffalo Bills cheerleader team she had no idea that being humiliated was part of the job description. Known as the Buffalo Jills, the cheerleaders were not only required to do jumping jacks in order to see if flesh jiggled, but they were forced to attend events held for sponsors where they were given tips for doing back flips in bikinis. 

If being humiliated regularly wasn’t bad enough, the Buffalo Jills had to attend hundreds of hours of work and practices without ever receiving a dime of compensation. Each girl even had to fork over $650 of her own money to pay for her uniforms. For a team that makes over $200 million a year, it’s no surprise that Alyssa and two other Jills sued the Bills back in May for violating state minimum wage laws. 

The cheerleaders only received a few small tips and occasional appearance fees.  This amounted for some of the cheerleaders to between $0.13 and $o.50 cents an hour.  

The idea that cheering on a professional team is a “privilege” not a “right” is slowly changing. You might recall another case that the Raiderettes brought against the Oakland Raiders. The team recently settled a lawsuit with the cheerleaders and agreeing to pay them minimum wage and overtime.  

Tell us what you think. Do you think these girls should be paid for their time spent cheering? Or do you think the honor of getting to cheer in front of thousands of fans is payment enough? 

*image by Angelina Earley, Flickr

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Alanis Morissette Sued by Nanny for Unpaid Wages, Overtime, and Meal Break Violations

Alanis Morissette’s former nanny, Bianca Cambeiro, has sued the singer and her husband Mario ‘Souleye’ Treadway, claiming that she was not paid overtime and forced to work 12-hour shifts without overtime pay or a break.

Cambeiro alleges in the lawsuit that she was hired as a night nanny for the couple’s son. Her shift was from 9 p.m. until 9 a.m. for $25 per hour. Cambeiro states that, during her employment, Morissette and her husband prohibited Cambeiro from leaving the baby’s room during her 12-hour shift, even if the baby was sleeping. As such, she claims she could neither eat nor take a break during her shift. Additionally, Cambeiro claims that Morissette and her husband failed to pay her statutory required overtime wages, in violation of California law.

Cambeiro seeks unpaid wages and other damages. Cambeiro also says that she suffered emotional distress–which are not recoverable for wage and hour violations.

Morissette is one of many celebrities who have been sued by for overtime by their:

Nannies:

Assistants:

What do you think of these celebrity overtime claims?  Do you think these are true or made up celebrity shake downs?

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Cheerleaders File Wage & Hour Class Action Against NFL’s Raiders

*UPDATE: This article was updated on December 12th, 2014. 

Can you believe the NFL’s Oakland Raiders pay their cheerleaders only $1,250 per year?!  Well they do.  In fact, the Raiders actually pay many cheerleaders less if you take into account their unreimbursed expenses and fines they give to their cheerleaders.

That is why the Raiders are now being sued for failure to pay minimum wages and overtime and illegally requiring cheerleaders to pay expenses out of their $125-per-game salaries.  The Raiderettes allege they do 2-3 rehearsals per week, performances at 10 charity events each season, and participate in the team’s annual swimsuit calendar photo shoot.  Along with the games themselves, they allege that this makes their wages below $5 per hour. California’s minimum wage is $8 per hour.

The suit also alleges that the Raiders:

1) impose arbitrary fines on the cheerleaders for such offenses as bringing the wrong pom-poms to practice;

2) illegally withhold the Raiderettes’ salaries until the end of each season, in violation of California law requiring pay at least twice a month; and

3) illegally prohibits the cheerleaders from discussing their wages with one another.

A Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader has since filed a similar lawsuit.

What do you think of Raiderettes getting paid so little while the players make millions?

UPDATE: According to this article, the NFL settled a claim with the Raiderettes for $1.25 million. This settlement will cover back pay for over 90 cheerleaders between the years of 2010 and 2013.

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Garth Brooks Sued for Unpaid Wages

Garth Brooks’ former business partner is suing him for unpaid wages and bonuses.  Lisa Sanderson is seeking $425,000 from the famed country music artist whom she worked with for almost 20 years.  Sanderson is a television and movie producer who claims she was hired by Brooks to start his acting career. Sanderson claims she is owed wages for getting Brooks movie roles which he declined.  Brooks allegedly declined roles in Saving Private Ryan and Twister because he “wanted to be the star” and was not willing to take a backseat to Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, or a tornado.

Sanderson also alleges Brooks turned down other deals she arranged for him including Fox and Disney.  Sanderson’s suit states that she never got the 50 percent of producers fees she was promised.

What do you think of a business partner–as opposed to an employee–suing for unpaid “wages”?

Please post your comments at:  www.ShiraziLawFirm.com/blog

For a little more juicy unpaid wages/salary misclassified case see my article re Lady Gaga being sued here.

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Lady Gaga Sued By Personal Assistant for Unpaid Overtime

In yet another celebrity lawsuit, Lady Gaga’s former personal assistant has sued the pop star for $380,000 of alleged unpaid overtime.  Gaga’s former personal assistant, Jennifer O’Neill, says she was on-call almost every hour of every day she worked for Gaga.  This included being Gaga’s “personal alarm clock”, fetching tampons, changing DVD’s, and doing whatever the eccentric pop star asked for.  Gaga’s main legal defense is that Ms. O’Neill never worked over 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week if you just add up her tasks individually.

Ms. O’Neill though, claims she was always required to be available and never paid for working over 8 hours in a day.  Ms. O’Neill only received her $75,000 a year salary.

During Gaga’s deposition she made the following interesting statements:

“Jennifer is a fucking hood rat who is suing me for money that she didn’t earn. She thinks she’s just like the queen of the universe. And, you know what, she didn’t want to be a slave to one, because in my work and what I do, I’m the queen of the universe every day.”

She knew there was no overtime, and I never paid her overtime the first time I hired her, so why would she be paid overtime the second time? This whole case is bullsh*t and you know it.

I’m quite wonderful to everybody that works for me, and I am completely aghast to what a disgusting human being that you have become to sue me like this. Because she slept in Egyptian cotton sheets every night, in five-star hotels, on private planes, eating caviar, partying with [photographer] Terry Richardson all night, wearing my clothes, asking [Yves Saint Laurent] to send her free shoes without my permission, using my YSL discount without my permission.

Unfortunately for Lady Gaga, bad performance or misconduct by an employee is not a defense to non-payment of overtime.  Neither is treating your employee to the benefits of a lavish lifestyle.  Overtime must be paid to all non-exempt employees who work over 8 hours in a day and/or 40 hours in a week (depending on your state).  An agreement to be a salaried employee does not override this rule.

What do you think of Gaga’s assistant’s lawsuit?  Should employees have to be paid for every hour they are available to their employer, even if they only work a small portion of that time?

Comment at:   http://www.shirazilawfirm.com/lady-gaga-sued-by-personal-assistant-for-unpaid-overtime/

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Magic Johnson Sued for Wrongful Termination and Age Discrimination in Los Angeles

Magic Johnson’s former flight attendant has sued his company for wrongful termination in Los Angeles Superior Court.  The former employee on Magic Johnson’s private plane, Lanita Thomas, is suing for age discrimination and various California Labor Code violations.  Ms. Thomas, 45, alleges that Magic replaced her with a much younger flight attendant because he prefers younger women in violation of the law. Ms. Thomas claims that the “pretext” for her termination by Magic was that she was seven minutes late while trying to get Magic the very specific kind of turkey he likes in his sandwiches.  Ms. Thomas-who worked for Magic since 2004-alleges that Magic hired the much younger flight attendant that temporarily substituted in for her during her prior medical leave of absence.

In addition to the age discrimination claim, Ms. Thomas is suing for California Labor Code violations, including non-payment of overtime and missed meal and rest periods.  Ms. Thomas alleges that she spent about a third of her time stocking Magic’s private plane with “highly specific in-flight food and beverage choices,” including liquorice, which she was required to “regularly squeeze to make sure they were soft.”  Ms. Thomas alleges that because she was the only flight attendant and had to spend so much time on the above-mentioned tasks, that she was never allowed to take full meal or rest breaks.

What do you think of the age discrimination claim against Magic?

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Sharon Stone Sued for Paying (yes paying) Her Nanny Overtime?

Sharon Stone’s former nanny has sued her in Los Angeles Superior Court for, among other things, paying her overtime.  Yes, you read this right, suing for getting paid overtime.  The lawsuit alleges that the high-profile actress from Basic Instinct and Casino paid the nanny overtime, but then terminated the nanny because she accepted the overtime.  Not making any sense?

The lawsuit accuses Stone of getting angry when she found out her staff was paying the nanny overtime.  So Stone allegedly accused the nanny of “stealing” the overtime and demanded the nanny pay it back.  The lawsuit alleges that when the nanny did not pay back the overtime, her hours were cut and that she was fired shortly thereafter.

The lawsuit also alleges racial discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

What do you think of this “getting overtime” retaliation lawsuit?

Comment below or at www.ShiraziLawFirm.com/blog

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