Is Jacob To Laban As Weiner Is To The Original Talk Radio Network?


Jacob was in love with Rachel, but he had a problem. What could he offer Rachel’s father Laban for her hand? Not having much, he offered to work for seven years. Laban seemed to find this acceptable, but when the seven years service was completed, he tricked Jacob into marrying Leah instead. Jacob was allowed to marry Rachel, but had to work another seven years to pay off Laban for the privilege.

One explanation for Laban’s chicanery might be that as paterfamilias he simply wanted Leah to be wed before her younger sister. I’m wondering, however, whether this wasn’t an elaborate scheme on the part of Laban to avoid a legal limit on the term of personal services contracts. Perhaps, ancient Haran had a law similar to California Labor Code Section 2855 which provides that a contract to render personal service, may not be enforced against the employee beyond seven years from the commencement of service under it. (The statute makes an explicit exceptions for contracts of apprenticeship as provided in Chapter 4 of the Labor Code and for any employee who is a party to a contract to render personal service in the production of phonorecords in which sounds are first fixed, as defined in 17 U.S.C. Section 101.)

This brings me to Dr. Michael A. Weiner of talk radio fame. Never heard of Dr. Weiner? He is professionally known as Michael Savage and he is the star of the eponymous “The Michael Savage Show”. In a ruling handed down last week, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers upheld an arbitration award in favor of Dr. Weiner and against the syndicator of his program. Weiner v. Original Talk Radio Network, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63083 (N. D. Cal., May 2, 2013) Although the ruling involves the standard for judicial review of arbitration awards, one large bone of contention in the arbitration appears to have been the applicability of Labor Code Section 2855.


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