There Is No “Lady Gaga” Overtime Exemption

Recently, reporting on what has to one of the most fascinating overtime cases in history, the media released excerpts from a deposition singer Lady Gaga gave in an overtime lawsuit filed by her former personal assistant.  It appears that Gaga’s former assistant claims that she was always at Gaga’s “beck and call” and that Gaga did not properly count all of the assistant’s “waiting time” and “sleeping time” as “working time” for wage and hour purposes.  Given the lifestyle Gaga described in her deposition, it would be interesting to try to sort out exactly when members of her entourage are working and when they’re just with her partying but not working.  If you’re on a yacht with Lady Gaga as her personal assistant, drinking champagne and eating caviar, but at a moment’s notice you might have to run and find her sunglasses for her, are you working the entire time or are you just having fun and only working during the ten minutes you’re looking for the sunglasses?

One quote from Gaga’s deposition caught my eye.  It occurred when she poo-pooed her assistant’s overtime claims:  “[She] knew exactly what she was getting into, and she knew there was no overtime, and I never paid her overtime the first time I hired her, so why would she be paid overtime the second time?”  Ah, the notorious “waiver” defense.  Let me tell you folks, employees cannot lose (waive) their federal overtime rights by waiting to bring their claim or by voluntarily working under unlawful conditions (assuming that the overtime claim is filed within the applicable statute of limitations).  Nor can employees forfeit their overtime rights by failing to complain about a lack of overtime.  The law is self-executing and compliance is always mandatory for employers who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions.  Employees do not have to do anything to preserve their overtime rights beyond filing a timely legal claim.

Overtime cases require legal analysis of federal statutes, U.S. Department of Labor regulations, and court decisions.  I can help you with any employment law or labor law questions that you might have.  Please feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation about employment law or labor law.


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