Ex-Assistant's Suit Against Lady Gaga Moves Forward
A former personal assistant, friend and roommate of pop star Lady Gaga may be able to collect overtime pay for being on call "every hour of every day" for nearly a year, a federal judge has ruled.
Southern District Judge Paul Gardephe (See Profile) on Monday refused to grant the "Born This Way" singer and her company, Mermaid Touring Inc., summary judgment that the assistant, Jennifer O'Neill, is not entitled to payment for hours she spent on call, rather than actively working.
The judge also declined to grant summary judgment that inasmuch as O'Neill is entitled to any overtime, it should be calculated on a "flexible work week" basis, which requires overtime pay of only half time, rather than time and a half.
Gardephe did grant summary judgment to Gaga on one issue, ruling that O'Neill cannot get damages under New York's Labor Law for work performed outside of the state.
The case, O'Neill v. Mermaid Touring, 11-9128, is set to go to trial Nov. 4.
Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, moved into O'Neill's building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan some time before 2008, according to the decision. The two eventually became friends and roommates.
In 2009, Gaga offered O'Neill a job as her personal assistant. O'Neill took the job, worked as Gaga's personal assistant for about four weeks in early 2009, and was paid $1,000 per week.
In February 2010, Gaga hired her again, and O'Neill continued working for her until March 2011, when she was fired. She was paid an annual salary of $75,000 during that time, and there was no discussion of overtime compensation.
O'Neill, represented by Virginia Trunkes of Snitow Kanfer & Holtzer, alleges that as Gaga's personal assistant, she had to be on call "24/7."
Her duties were wide-ranging. She testified they included cleaning up Gaga's hotel rooms, having her makeup done, making sure she drank water and ate, making sure she had tea and "special food" wherever she went, handling her email and phone calls, handling her luggage and "just being there for her."