Going Gaga over the Not-So-Little Overtime Monster

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn February 13, 2013In: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Wages and Benefits

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Lady Gaga has cancelled the remaining dates in her Born This Way Ball tour. Try to hold back those tears, dear readers. I know you're upset.

I, too, am upset by this news, particularly because I had tickets to next week's show in Philadelphia. Ok, I didn't buy the ticket, it was a gift, but, dag nab it, I was going to put it to good use! Although "Mother Monster," as she's known, doesn't exactly make regular appearances on my playlist, she's supposed to put on one heck of a show and, by George, I was excited to see it!

Alas, it appears that the Rock 'n Roll gods, which would be the musical gods I pay homage to most days, may be punishing me for straying into the land of popular music. Hopefully I will be forgiven by attending the Mumford & Sons show on Sunday and The Who show in Atlantic City next Friday.

But I digress. Back to Gaga.

As I said, I am disappointed to hear that Gaga won't be able to perform next week. Disappointment is a sentiment that the pop star understands. She was very disappointed when her former personal assistant (and personal friend), sued her in federal court.

In the suit, the assistant, Jennifer O'Neill alleges that she is owed more than 7,000 hours in overtime pay because, she claims, she was "on call" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (No, really, that's what she alleges). She was paid--in case you're wondering--$75,000 per year.

Lady Gaga's defense rests, in part, on her claim that the assistant was not "on the clock" during all of those long nights but, instead, was hanging out with Gaga as her friend. Gaga insisted that she and O'Neill were spending time together as friends, not as employer and employee. Gaga went on to say that she had showed O'Neill the "time of her life," and that O'Neill "slept in Egyptian cotton sheets every night, in five-star hotels, on private planes, eating caviar."

That may be all well and true but it does not serve as a legal defense to a claim for unpaid wages. The FLSA provides that workers cannot waive their right to wages earned. So, even if O'Neill had said, "Ahh, Gaga, you needn't pay me anything for this work. It's payment enough that I have the honor to hang out with such a superstar and her jet-setter friends," she would not have waived her right to be paid for time worked.

Of course, that doesn't mean that she's entitled to overtime, either. We'll have to wait and see what the court says.

Until then, though, here's a snippet of entertainment to hold you over. During her deposition, Gaga gave plenty of entertaining testimony, as reported by the New York Post. Many of her comments sound like what I'd like to say to FLSA plaintiffs. Here are a few other gems with my comments in brackets:

"Are you going to stare at me like a witch this whole time -- honestly?"
[How many times I would have liked to say that to my opposing counsel and/or the plaintiff who is sitting across the table from me, giving me the death stare.]

"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."
[The sentiment of many employers, who feel the same way when an employee files suit.]

"You don't get a schedule that is like you punch in and you can play [expletive] Tetris at your desk for four hours and then you punch out at the end of the day. This is -- when I need you, you're available."
[Boy, that sounds an awful lot like "you're on call."]

And, now, my personal favorite:

"This whole case is bulls--t, and you know it."
[Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?]

Maybe Gaga is cooler than I've given her credit for, after all. For more celebrity testimony, see this post about rap star Lil' Wayne's deposition.

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