NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks Settle Dancers Class Action for Unpaid Wages

Lauren Herington, a former dancer for the Milwaukee Bucks, brought a class action on behalf of herself and other dancers against the NBA team back in 2015. She claimed that during her employment she and fellow dancers got paid less than minimum wage for the hours they spent training, attending costume fittings, making charity appearances, posing for photo shoots, practicing, and performing during games. 

The dancers were paid as follows: 

$65 for games

$30 for practice

$50 for special events

Nearly two years later, Milwaukee Bucks have finally reached a settlement with the dancers and have agreed to pay out $250,000. So what does that amount look like when split up?

Herington would receive $10,000. Herington’s attorneys would receive $115,000. The remainder of the settlement would be divided amongst Herrington and 40 other dancers who were employed from September 12, 2012-July 31, 2015, and would be based on the hours each woman worked. The affected women would have to opt in to receive their share in exchange for waiving their legal claims.  Those that choose not to opt in, could potentially file their own suit against The Bucks.

The Bucks deny any wrongdoing, saying that the only reason they settled was to avoid a potentially costly litigation process. Regardless of whether you buy their reasoning, the Bucks are on a growing list of teams who have had to settle similar unpaid wage claims in the last few years including: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who had to shell out $825,000), the Oakland Raiders (who had to pay a whopping $1.24 million), and the Cincinnati Bengals (who had to cough up $255,000.) 

Why do you think professional sports teams pay their cheerleaders/dancers so little?

*image by Keith Allison

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Rapper TI’s Restaurant Sued By Former Employees for Wage Theft and Retaliation

Atlanta rapper, TI, may be best known for his mainstream hits such as “You Can Have Whatever You Like” and “Live Your Life” featuring Rihanna, but did you know that he was also the co-owner of a restaurant in downtown Atlanta called Scales 925? The restaurant, which opened in March 2015, serves Southern cuisine in an upscale atmosphere. 

Both TI, whose birth name is Clifford Harris Jr., and his business partner Charles Hughes, are being sued by twelve former employees for unpaid wages. The employees claim that both Harris (TI) and Hughes have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Though the plaintiffs are accusing Hughes specifically, Harris (TI) is also equally liable since they are co-owners.

Hughes is being accused of the following nefarious pay practices:

  1. Connected his personal bank account to the restaurant’s and then deposited payroll money into his own account. When employees tried to cash their paychecks, they bounced.
  2. Employees claimed that they were required to work off the clock before being allowed to go home. 
  3. Employees claimed that they weren’t paid for overtime. 
  4. The restaurants time and billing software, ALOHA, would delete hours once an employee racked up 40 hours a week. 
  5. Money from the employees’ paychecks was used to pay busboys, though the busboys claim they never received these wages. 
  6. Money from the employees’ paychecks was used to pay Georgia payroll taxes, though these taxes were never paid. 
  7. Money from the employees’ paychecks was used to pay for “broken glasses”, even if there weren’t any broken glasses. 
  8. Hughes programmed ALOHAin such as way that caused employees to claim $35 in tips, even when employees did not. 
  9. Employees allege that they were denied their last paychecks upon leaving the company.

When plaintiffs complained to Hughes about the wage discrepancies, they were either ignored, their hours were cut, or they were fired out of retaliation. The total amount of back pay that the restaurant owes the plaintiffs is more than $75,000.The plaintiffs are seeking back pay, liquidated damages, nominal damages, compensatory damages, attorney fee and punitive damages. 

What do you think of these accusations of wage theft?

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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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Judge Orders Papa John’s To Pay For Wage Violations

A New York judge recently ordered Emstar Pizza Inc., owner of 7 Papa John’s locations in the Brooklyn and Queens area, to pay $800,000 to employees for unpaid wages. For six years, Emstar allegedly underreported employees’ hours, rounded work hours down, and failed to pay overtime.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is also considering taking legal action against the owner of Papa John’s International Inc., John Schnatter. Because the National Labor Relations Board holds parent companies responsible for the actions of its own franchises, Papa John’s would be considered a “joint employer” of Emstar. Back in July, the Board ruled McDonald’s a joint employer to its franchise locations. Because of the ruling, McDonald’s was held liable for labor and wage violations. 

Though franchises employ 2/3 of the nation’s low-wage workers, franchisor’s haven’t yet been held accountable for the wage violations of their franchise owners. Do you think corporate franchisor’s should be held accountable for wage violations? 

*image by James, Flickr

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Mariah Carey Sued By Personal Assistant For Wages, Overtime, And Break Violation

Mariah Carey is being sued by her former personal assistant Ylser Oliver. Oliver worked for Carey from March 2007 to June 2014. During Oliver’s employment, she claims that Carey made her work overtime (up to 16 hours a day for 7 days a week) and did not compensate her appropriately.  Oliver also alleges she was not allowed to take proper meal break opportunities. 

Some of the tasks that Oliver was assigned to do while she was Carey’s assistant included housekeeping, shopping, and traveling. In June of 2014, Oliver quit because she was fed up with the long hours and lack of overtime.  She claims she is entitled to about 4,000 hours of overtime pay.

This case was filed in Federal Court in New York, and thus if Carey’s “Assistant” was a non-exempt employee she would have been entitled to time and half for her overtime hours.  Under California law, most non-exempt employees are entitled to time and a half for overtime for hours over 8 in a day or 40 in a week.  In California, most non-exempt employees are also entitled to the opportunity to take a 30 minute non-interrupted meal break for every five hours they work.

Do you think the claims against Mariah are true or just another celebrity shake down? See our past blog posts on celebrity assistant and nanny overtime claims; Sharon Stone, Lady Gaga, Alanis Morisette

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Employee’s Wages Put in a Bad “Situation” by MTV Reality Star

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, best known for his appearance on all six seasons of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, is being sued by a former employee for failing to receive her final check at his tanning salon, Boca Tanning Club.

Though Sorrentino seems to be doing well financially–he made more than $5 million in 2010 through endorsements (the second highest of any other reality star after Kim Kardashian)–his tanning salon in Middletown, NJ seems to be on the edge of a major break down. 

The woman accusing The Situation of not paying up, says that every paycheck she received during her 3 months of employment bounced. Sorrentino would eventually give her cash to make up for the bounced check but when she quit in June, her final paycheck also bounced. According to this article by TMZ, the tanning salon’s bank account has been closed, a clue that the tanning salon is gone for good. 

In order to receive her final pay check, the former employee was instructed by police to file a lawsuit.  Under California law, employees must be paid their final paycheck immediately when terminated or within 72 hours if the employee quits.

What do you think of a multi-millionaire refusing to pay his employees on time? Underfunding of businesses is not uncommon and can lead to individual liability.

*image by Alexis O’Toole, Flickr

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Canadian Hockey League Sued for Unpaid Wages

The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) is being sued by former players for $180 million in outstanding wages. The CHL employs major junior hockey players ranging in ages between 15 and 20. 

According to the allegations, the CHL paid thousands of young players as little as $30 a week for time spent training, practicing, playing, and traveling.

The CHL claims that players are independent contractors or interns and are therefore exempt from being paid minimum wage. If CHL wins the lawsuit, they will be able to continue paying players $30 to $50 a week. If not, CHL will have to pay players in accordance with minimum wage laws. 

While CHL, a for-profit organization continues to rake in hundred of millions of dollars annually, they fail to redistribute that wealth to their players. Instead, they have increased scholarships and mentoring programs for the players. Unsurprisingly, the players find this type of “compensation” insufficient. 

Considering this case, do you think the players are indeed interns or do you think they are employees and should be compensated as such? Read about a similar unpaid wages claim here

*image by Enea Pestelacci, Flickr

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Apple Accused of Unpaid Wages by California Employees

Whether you are a fan of Apple products or not, you are probably already sick of hearing about the iPhone 6. Fortunately for you, this article has nothing to do with the media’s most-talked about gadget. It does, however, touch briefly on Apple’s questionable employment and pay practices. 

Three years ago, several Apple employees sued the company for violating several California labor codes including not providing employees adequate breaks, not providing itemized wage statements, and not paying them in a reasonable amount of time upon employment termination. Under California law, most non-exempt employees must receive an uninterrupted 30 minute meal break for every 5 hours worked. These employees must also be given a rest break for every 3 1/2 hours they work or major fraction thereof.  Furthermore, all employees must be paid their final paycheck upon termination or within 72 hours of quitting.

The plaintiffs are currently seeking back pay for themselves and potentially as much as 20,000 other affected employees. The lawsuit recently received class-action status by the California Superior Court. The potential claims of these current and former employees date back to 2007.

Do you think Apple took a bite out of their employees wages? Do you think these missed break allegations will affect a “socially conscious” company like Apple?  Leave us your opinion in the comments below. 

*image by StartUpStockPhotos.com

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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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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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