Lady Gaga, Former Personal Assistant, Settle Overtime Claims; Case Highlights Risk Of "On Call" Expectations For Non-Exempt Employees


Last week, a federal court in New York approved an undisclosed settlement between pop singer Lady Gaga and her former personal assistant to resolve the personal assistant’s overtime claims. Although the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, the personal assistant sought nearly $380,000 in overtime wages claiming that, while accompanying the singer on an international tour, she was on-call “24/7” to respond to the singer’s telephone calls, e-mails and attend to her other needs (such as being available to immediately hand Lady Gaga a towel upon her completion of a shower). While the typical employer will not impose the demands placed on Lady Gaga's former personal assistant, the case is nevertheless a reminder of the potential pitfalls employers may face when they demand that non-exempt employees should always be "available" whenever needed. Technology has blurred the lines between home and work, making accessibility even easier. Many times, well-intentioned and loyal, but non-exempt, employees want to go “above and beyond” by being accessible outside of work. The concern with having employees "on call" is especially relevant when employers issue non-exempt employees phones or tablet computers enabling them to receive e-mails, text messages and telephone calls outside of work, and when supervisors communicate with non-exempt employees at night or on weekends. Employers must be vigilant in setting expectations, through effective communications and policies, of when they expect - and don't expect - non-exempt employees to be available outside of normal business hours, and the economic impact of those expectations based upon applicable state and federal wage and hour laws.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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