A former personal assistant of Lady Gaga recently filed a lawsuit against the entertainer and her touring company claiming she was denied hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The assistant, Jennifer O’Neill, claims that her position did not qualify for any exception to overtime laws because she did not exercise any independent discretion or judgment in her role. She claimed she worked around the clock for a fixed salary of only $75,000 per year. The woman claimed that she was on call 24/7 and is asking for $380,000 in overtime for the more than 7,100 overtime hours she worked while following the pop star around the world.
The lawsuit has been pending since the end of 2011, but recently received new attention after Lady Gaga’s attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment. The case also received renewed attention after a copy of Gaga’s deposition surfaced.
According to Lady Gaga, the assistant and she were close friends before she was fired for being lazy and generally bad at her job. Gaga appears to have lost her cool in the deposition, using the “F-word” liberally and referring to Ms. O’Neill as a “disgusting human being.” Gaga also claimed that Ms. O’Neill lived in the lap of luxury during the 15 months she worked for her, staying in luxury hotels, eating at the best restaurants and getting free clothing from famous designers.
Though all of these things may be true, the Fair Labor Standards Act is unconcerned about perks associated with demanding jobs. The fact of the matter is that if an employee is non-exempt and worked overtime hours that were not reimbursed, the employer is liable for the back pay.
Some experts believe Gaga hurt herself during the deposition, admitting that the job did not require much if any independent judgment and discretion which means the position likely was non-exempt. Furthermore, Gaga indicated the position required that Ms. O’Neill be on-call 24 hours a day.
The fight will likely be over the nature of Ms. O’Neill’s on-call time, whether it was her own time or not. If her off time was for her to use as she pleased, with only periodic interruption, then Gaga may not have to pay up. If not, then Gaga may owe a boatload.
Source: “Lady Gaga Proclaims Herself ‘Queen of the Universe’ in F-bomb Deposition,” by Debra Cassens Weiss, published at ABAJournal.com.
Source: “Lady Gaga Rants Under Oath in Pay Battle with Former Personal Assistant,” by Bruce Golding, published at NYPost.com.