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Gaga Case Goes Bye-Bye

Kansas Employment Law Blog's action news team brings you the hard-hitting stories and latest news from the world of employment law. Consistent with that mission, it is our duty to report that yesterday Lady Gaga has reached an out-of-court settlement with her former personal assistant, who claimed the pop diva owed her nearly $400,000 in unpaid overtime under the FLSA for work performed over a 13-month period.

We've been following the case for nearly a year. (Gaga over the FLSA Monster (01/27/2013); Court Not Goo-Goo over Gaga--the FLSA Monster Revisited (10/03/2013).) Jennifer O'Neill, Gaga's (now former) friend, served as her personal assistant during a world tour. O'Neil alleged she was paid a base annual salary of $75,000, but was cheated out of thousands of hours of overtime while she was on call 24/7 to attend to Gaga's every need. Last month the court ruled that O'Neill had enough evidence to take her FLSA claims to trial, where a jury would need to decide whether her on-call time was compensable. But rather than endure a trial, which was scheduled to start on November 4, Gaga decided to open up her purse and settle the case. The amount of the settlement was confidential. But whatever she has to pony up, Gaga should be able to cover it--she earned $80 million in the first six months of 2013, according to Forbes

In our original article about the case (link above), we identified seven lessons HR professionals can learn from this case. Here are four more takeaways: 

(1) Overtime wages can rack up quickly when you mistakenly treat an employee as exempt from the FLSA. So make sure any employees who are treated as salaried exempt, and thus not being paid overtime, are in fact performing job duties that qualify for a recognized exemption.

(2) When a former employee gets cross-wise with you, her lawyer may direct her down the lucrative path of a wage-and-hour claim, even if she went to see the lawyer about an entirely different gripe. So pick your battles with terminated employees wisely.

(3) Employers with deep pockets make good targets for lawsuits. Duh.

(4) In most cases, employers do not want to incur the cost of a trial or take their chances with a jury. So if the employer cannot get the case thrown out before trial, there's a good chance it could settle. 

Who would've thought Mother Monster could teach us so much about employment law?


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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
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Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
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Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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