February 1, 2013

Lady Gaga, deposed.

Law office. Litigation. That kind of deposed. She wasn't deposed from her position as Queen of the Universe. She maintains that, or so she maintained in the deposition.

“She’s just — she thinks she’s just like the queen of the universe,” Gaga said about the former personal assistant who is suing her (seeking overtime pay).  “And, you know what, she didn’t want to be a slave to one, because in my work and what I do, I’m the queen of the universe every day.”
[Jennifer] O’Neill says she put in 7,168 hours of unpaid overtime... and is owed more than $393,000, plus damages.

... Gaga said none of her employees get paid overtime, adding that O’Neill “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? This whole case is bulls--t, and you know it.... I’m quite wonderful to everybody that works for me, and I am completely aghast to what a disgusting human being that you have become to sue me like this.... Because she slept in Egyptian cotton sheets every night, in five-star hotels, on private planes, eating caviar, partying with [photographer] Terry Richardson all night, wearing my clothes, asking YSL [Yves Saint Laurent] to send her free shoes without my permission, using my YSL discount without my permission.”
Interesting that Gaga would put herself through the stress of 6 hours of testifying like this. You'd think she'd pay $393,000 to make O'Neill go away. It' was a job where O'Neill on call round the clock, apparently, but only working in spurts, unpacking luggage, going down to the drugstore, whatever it was the star wouldn't — or couldn't —  do for herself. If you read the whole article at the link, you'll see that O'Neill worked so closely with Gaga that she seems to have gotten the idea of herself as the star's friend and assumed various privileges — the second bed on the private plane, the extra pillows, etc.

This seems to have led to the split. Perhaps O'Neill, fired and forced to think of herself as a mere employee, went legal, seeking an employee's compensation. This relationship should have been managed for Gaga by someone else. Another kind of personal assistant.

But Gaga doesn't sound like she has good business sense about what she is doing. If you've got tons of money and you spend it being "quite wonderful to everybody" as you travel, how do you extract professional work from them? They are supposed to adore you in exchange for your beneficence? If they lose the job, they're not going to love you, and you've got so much money, you're a target for a lawsuit. Why didn't she see that coming?

47 comments:

Pogo said...

Your boss is not your friend.

Personal assistants feed off the glory of the boss, but make a fatal error when they forget they are only an employee and nothing more.

phx said...

Yeah she doesn't seem to have a lot of business sense. People in that field often don't, I gather. Yet she's made a shiteload of moolah.

Bob Ellison said...

Lady Gaga is said to be about 5'1" tall. Take a look at the picture of her with O'Neill in the NYPost article. Now, assume Gaga is wearing, oh, 5" heels. So the top of her head is 5'6" off the ground. That would indicate O'Neill is about 4'9".

I know, way off-topic. I'm a short person, and I am fascinated by celebrity height.

Matt said...

She sounds awfully illiberal. Or at least not what we are supposed to believe liberals are like if you know what I mean.

Shouting Thomas said...

AKA, Gaga uses the deposition for a PR show.

This woman is all PR all the time.

Many people in show biz treat their help like shit. I've got a treasure trove of stories of such shit treatment from guys who worked as backup musicians to the stars.

Gaga, with her Cleopatra act, is undoubtedly a supremely dislikable asshole.

It's not surprising that the slaves tire of the abuse and want revenge. After a while, the money doesn't make up for the abuse.

phx said...

The overtime claims do sound bogus. She was on salary.

Shouting Thomas said...

Why didn't she see that coming?

Why didn't Albert Grossman see Dylan's lawsuit again him coming?

The big money unites people for a while, then it divides them, as they tire of one another.

Expat(ish) said...

The legal tests for SE versus SNE workers are pretty easy to figure out.

I predict that if the PA got a good lawyer with some experience they are pretty likely to win/settle.

My previous company got sideways of the "control your work schedule" part of the SE/SNE thing and had to re-designate a large (10K people) swath of office workers as "salary/hourly." Lots of hurt feelings until people making $100K/year started getting overtime checks at the $75/hour rate.

Then everyone cheered the heck up.

L/G/G is fighting this because her lawyers have told her that it'll cost her millions of dollars over her other PA's. Or for PR as some have suggested.

-XC

Patrick said...

You'd think she'd pay $393,000 to make O'Neill go away.

For someone in her position, that is like putting up a billboard in every city saying "Sue me. I'll pay you just to go away!" Bad idea.

Bob Ellison said...

phx, salary does not erase overtime-pay requirements. In general, managerial work tends to erase it, but salaries do not.

I'm a conservative, pro-business guy, but I hate the tendency many American businesses have of stretching working hours past 40. It's stupid, because most people are only capable of about forty hours of good work per week (work harder and smarter, not longer). It's also abusive, because employees don't know what's expected, and the hard workers get bad reputations from the long workers.

The Gold Digger said...

What Expat(ish) said.

The distinction between exempt (ha! love that term! "Exempt" from being paid for working long hours!) and non-exempt is pretty clear.

I would love to be non-exempt from OT pay. Then perhaps the sting of spending Thanksgiving weekend flying to the Middle East in a coach seat next to an armrest hog would not have been so bad.

m stone said...

The "Queen of the Universe" title is already taken. Michelle may have a case of false identity against Gaga.

Patrick said...

The overtime claims do sound bogus. She was on salary.

That's not entirely clear from the article. Employers have to be careful about how they classify hourly vs. salaried workers, and they may be subject to OT regulations and penalties if they do it wrong. I'm not sure if Lady Gaga Enterprises is large enough to bu subject to the regs, however.

Mitchell the Bat said...

"Hey you, there's a hole in my dress so run down to the butcher's and bring me some meat."

ErnieG said...

What a waste of newsprint/pixels/bandwidth/oxygen.

Ann Althouse said...

"For someone in her position, that is like putting up a billboard in every city saying "Sue me. I'll pay you just to go away!" Bad idea."

I understand this point and made it myself in a draft of this post but then took it out because I think a deal could have been made that would keep things silent.

I don't know if this is why Gaga is fighting this lawsuit. That's the other reason I left this point out. It was reading the whole 3 pages of the article that made me rethink why Gaga is fighting.

I think she's fighting because she's emotionally invested in this relationship with O'Neill. They really were friends, I would guess. O'Neill slept in the second bed on the private plane and must have been a companion in a way that was confusing and got bitter when Gaga tried to get better service out of a woman who had come to think of herself as an aristocrat.

Gaga needs a rational, grounded person to run things for her.

Just my guess.

phx said...

I stand corrected to those who corrected me. Of course, I won't ever forgive you.

ricpic said...

What's O'Neill's problem? Gag got "shit hammered" in Paris and "stumbled and screamed" in the street. And O'Neill was right there, living the dream. Could it get any better for a rock star aide?

Shouting Thomas said...

Gaga needs a rational, grounded person to run things for her.

She'll have a tough time doing this.

A real manager will, essentially, take over and make Gaga work for him because he has business sense and conventional morals, and she doesn't.

This is a recipe for a fight to the death.

Shouting Thomas said...

Gaga has the profile of somebody likely to die in a blaze of glory of drugs, alcohol and sex.

Ann Althouse said...

"That's not entirely clear from the article. Employers have to be careful about how they classify hourly vs. salaried workers, and they may be subject to OT regulations and penalties if they do it wrong. I'm not sure if Lady Gaga Enterprises is large enough to bu subject to the regs, however."

She should have had good lawyers early on in this process, but it sounds like she indulged in the artist's delusion that we're outside the conventions of the world of the squares.

When there's this money flowing around, it's stupid to act like your business is a floating party. It will go to hell.

You don't want litigation lawyers shoring up the wreckage after the fact. Get help early. Have people who protect you from the outset as you indulge your artist ways. As soon as the money is flowing in, you have to structure things differently.

But who can tell that to the artist, especially when things are ballooning quickly?

phx said...

Oh, how I wish I had heeded Althouse's advise so much earlier. Sad.

Shouting Thomas said...

When there's this money flowing around, it's stupid to act like your business is a floating party.

This is the paradox that is difficult to solve.

Her "act" is "to act like [her] business is a floating party."

Few people know how to resolve this paradox. Mick Jagger comes to mind.

Patrick said...

I think she's fighting because she's emotionally invested in this relationship with O'Neill

Yeah, that's probably the reason. Given her behavior in the depo, I think you're right. Her attorney and business manager are probably telling her not to settle because it would invite more lawsuits. She's probably fighting it because of the relationship gone bad.

Patrick said...


She should have had good lawyers early on in this process, but it sounds like she indulged in the artist's delusion that we're outside the conventions of the world of the squares


I don't work with artists, but this applies to businessmen also. Many of the clients I represent in litigation could have saved themselves the trouble of a lawsuit by consulting me earlier than they did. And the litigation hurts them much more because they don't have all of that money around. That, however, often leads them to make better decisions once the litigation commences.

Bob Ellison said...

phx, that one (8:51 AM) made me LOL. Very good.

bagoh20 said...

I don't think her job qualifies to be a salaried position unless she was managing other people, and maybe not even then. Thus the overtime may be required, regardless of what she agreed to. The law does not allow you to agree to waive the rules. This of course is designed to prevent employer abuse, but it also prevents an employee from getting working conditions they may actually want or need. I have people begging me to let them work without overtime pay, because they want the money, think regular pay is fair, have a personal scheduling need, or want to get more hours per commute. I just don't do it. I have to apologize for the law, and they think I'm an idiot, but once you fire someone, all that will come back to haunt you, and the fact that they asked you to do it is no defense.

I understand the concern about abuse, but employees and employers should be able to contract more freely on this.

Patrick said...

By the way, Prof. Althouse (or Meade), you should put a link up to Amazon's sale of MP3's for $4.99 or less. There are 400 pages of MP3's with 24 albums per page. Just about every genre imaginable.

Of course with the MP3's, you don't get liner notes, which I like to have. Seems there ought to be an easy way to do that.

bagoh20 said...

"Gaga has the profile of somebody likely to die in a blaze of glory of drugs, alcohol and sex."

Except for Virginia Rappe with Fatty Arbuckle, you never hear much about the dying from sex thing. And, you really shouldn't sleep with people actually named "Fatty" anyway.

EDH said...

I understand the concern about abuse, but employees and employers should be able to contract more freely on this.

This is like Instapundit's campaign to "repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts".

While one might agree with GaGa on a personal level, unless the elite are forced to live with the law that everyone else has to, there will be absolutely no impetus for moving in a more reasonable direction.

Shouting Thomas said...

A real biz manager with any sense would only take on Gaga's biz if he had absolute authority and was paid an astronomical premium for putting up with her asshole act.

chickelit said...

Althouse mused: But Gaga doesn't sound like she has good business sense about what she is doing.

Not like Madonna, huh?

bagoh20 said...

I'm out to win the purchase of the day. C'mon Althouse. You know I won. Competition is healthy and profitable, but the best must win. And I did't use any performance enhancing drugs.

Colonel Angus said...

Why didn't she see that coming?

Is your question rhetorical? I ask because as a law professor I am sure you have come across some pretty dumb folks in your classes. Educated people obviously 'smart enough' to get into law.school. In this case you are talking about celebrities and entertainers. These are not the brightest bulbs in the lighthouse. Why assume they should be smarter than your dumbest law student?

bagoh20 said...

" But Gaga doesn't sound like she has good business sense about what she is doing."

Maybe, but I'd trade her businesses any day. That would be great. Me in a meat suit with millions of adoring teen fans. I think I could pull it off.

Patrick said...

I understand the concern about abuse, but employees and employers should be able to contract more freely on this.

C'mon Bagoh, what do you think this is, a free society where adults can work as they please? Sheesh, that went out with the jitterbug.

traditionalguy said...

Gaga should hire a good business person or experienced lawyer to make plans that maximize her easy way through life while avoiding theses pitfalls.

But she will never do that because she would have to pay them. And that would give them credit for their professionalism.

Gaga is a narcissist controller. That makes her a blight on the life of anyone who falls for her drama.

Expat(ish) said...

re: get a good business guy.

I thought that this is what finally broke up the Beatles. That whole Apple enterprises thing.

Sorry to not be more specific, but I'm not a Beatles-fan-boy so don't listen too closely to this stuff.

-XC

Tank said...

LGG - She thought that giving 50,000 Yankees fans the finger was good PR, so maybe this too, like ST says.

But, this looks likely (just guessing) to be in the nature of a divorce/estate fight where emotions rule and litigants often make seemingly irrational decisions (from a $$$ standpoint) just because they want to "win" or hurt the other side more than they want the money. Seen this lots of times, unfortunately.

Alex said...

O'Neill forgot that she was living the rock & roll dream, whatever that is. There is no "overtime pay".

Alex said...

I actually was a fan to the middle of 2010 until all the gay shit hit the fan. The meat dress didn't help.

deborah said...

"Gaga has the profile of somebody likely to die in a blaze of glory of drugs, alcohol and sex."

Jealous.

Ann Althouse said...

"I thought that this is what finally broke up the Beatles. That whole Apple enterprises thing."

They didn't get a good guy.

One reason not to get a lawyer at the outset is that you don't trust lawyers/businessmen. Then, later, you get sued. And so you have to get a lawyer. A different kind of lawyer. And lots more strife.

Crunchy Frog said...

"Gaga has the profile of somebody likely to die in a blaze of glory of drugs, alcohol and sex."

Has she made it past age 27 yet? That's when it hits.

gregq said...

Have you seen "The Devil Wears Prada"? That's how the big stars work their people, and that's how they get rewarded (fancy travel, etc.). If the aid didn't like it, she should have quit.

This lawsuit should be thrown out.

Michael Haz said...

Maybe GaGa wouldn't settle because she was out of money with which to settle. Article here about her recent bankruptcy.

Mike said...

The problem with hiring a "business manager" to take care of hiring people and your finances is that you still have to hire the business manager. If you're incompetent at hiring regular staff,you will be just as incompetent at hiring a manager. A celebrity's business manager stealing money from them is a cliche for a reason. It's the same as when a government can't run a service effectively, so they hire a contractor, but it turns out they can't hire a contractor effectively either.
In the end you have to be in charge of your own money and your own hires. If you can't do that, at least a little, then no amount of middlemen will help.