• New York Court Not so Goo-goo over Gaga - An Update to the FLSA Monster
  • September 20, 2013 | Author: Boyd A. Byers
  • Law Firm: Foulston Siefkin LLP - Wichita Office
  • We previously covered the Lady Gaga FLSA saga. As an update, earlier this week (September 10), the Southern District of New York addressed Stefani Germanotta’s (aka “Lady Gaga”) motion to dismiss claims brought by her former personal secretary under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law (NYLL). Jennifer O’Neil claimed that Gaga failed to pay her overtime wages when she was on-call 24/7 while on tour with Gaga.

    O’Neil claims that Gaga required her to be “working and/or on call every hour of every day” during her employment. On tour, O’Neil had various responsibilities, including handling communications, cleaning Gaga’s hotel room, ensuring Gaga was “hopefully” on time to places, making sure Gaga ate and drank when she needed, and handling Gaga’s extensive luggage-generally twenty bags. According to O’Neil, Gaga would wake her during the night to take out a DVD and replace it with another because Gaga was “tired” of the movie she was watching.

    Allegedly, when Gaga re-hired O’Neil, they did not discuss any payment terms. O’Neil had previously worked a short stint for Gaga at $1,000 per week. O’Neil was told a few weeks into the job in 2010 that she would receive a salary of $75,000 annually, but nothing was said regarding overtime.

    The court granted defendants motion in part holding that the NYLL applied only to work performed in New York. The fact that O’Neil was domiciled and resided there was irrelevant for work performed elsewhere.

    Gaga’s motion to dismiss was denied as to O’Neil’s claim for unpaid wages for on-call time. In its decision, the court noted that “on-call time can constitute work and is compensable under the FLSA where the employer restricts an employee’s ability to use the time freely for his or her own benefit.” This includes periods of inactivity that are unpredictable and usually of short duration as the employee is unable to effectively use that time for his own purpose.

    This case serves as a reminder to employers to freshen up on over-time requirements under the FLSA, as well as under the Kansas Wage Payment Act. Remember, just because an employee is salaried, doesn’t mean that over-time never has to be paid. Additionally, whether a person qualifies as salaried and exempt from over-time requirements depends on the salary and job duties, not on the employee’s job title.