Whether it’s on the phone, in my office, or just on the street, people – I mean, hoards of people – have been asking me the same one question: What’s happening with Lady Gaga?
A few weeks ago, on September 30th, I blogged about a federal lawsuit brought against Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) by a former personal assistant, who alleged that she was “expected to be working and/or on call every hour of every day” while she was employed by Gaga, and thus plaintiff is owed overtime pay for every single hour in every day beyond those up to the first 40 hours in the week. The interesting question for this blog was, are you required to account for (and, if so, how do you account for) all work performed by an employee on Blackberries and other smart phones after hours and off premises? As I mentioned on September 30th, the issues in the case were to be decided by a jury at a trial scheduled to begin on Monday, November 4, 2013.
Here’s the update: This past Monday, only two weeks before trial, the parties settled the case. Monetary and other terms have not been disclosed, and the lawsuit has been discontinued “with prejudice”. Frustrating perhaps for those who wanted some “decision” on the substantive issues by the triers of fact. But presumably not so frustrating for Gaga, who can go back to doing what she does best outside of the courtroom. Whatever that is.
Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development?
Yes, there is a takeaway here for you. These wage and hour cases can be expensive and time consuming, and thought must be given to the nature of the defense your company mounts. We’ll never know what a jury would have decided here, but does it really matter? Whether Gaga (or your company as a defendant) believed that she was right or acted properly is largely irrelevant to the big picture. The cost of these lawsuits, the time expended by your company, and the risks attendant to defending your position, are significant. Even a “win” two years later, may not bring back that lost time and monetary cost.
So, while you can never really stop someone from filing a lawsuit, your best bet still is to minimize the risk as much as you can. One way to do that is to self-audit your wage and hour policies and practices before you find yourself in Gaga’s legal predicament. As they say, an ounce of prevention . . .