The same attorney who went after movie studios over late paychecks for extras and cameramen has filed a new set of lawsuits on behalf of police officers working security and traffic control on film and TV shoots.
Alan Harris has filed about two dozen lawsuits in the past year, alleging that the studios aren't paying retired and off-duty officers all the overtime they earn during days that sometimes last more than 15 hours.
Harris, founding partner of Los Angeles-based law firm Harris & Ruble, is seeking class-action status for the suits, which claim the studios violated California's overtime law by not paying the officers double-time after 12 hours, as stipulated by the state's labor code.
Studios named in the suits include NBC Studios, Walt Disney Studios, DreamWorks SKG, MGM Studios, Paramount Pictures Corp., Warner Brothers Television Production and 20th Century Fox. Also included are several payroll companies the studios use.
LAPD officer Michael Harrington is the plaintiff in several of the suits. One was filed against NBC Studios after several days of shooting the show "Providence" stretched as long as 16 & #733; hours. Harrington alleges he was paid time-and-a-half for working beyond eight hours, but not the required double-time past 12 hours.
"These guys risk their lives for us, and to not pay them the overtime that they earned seems to be particularly troublesome," Harris said. "This is not the most dangerous assignment for the policemen, but the point is they should be treated with dignity and respect, and get paid the wages they are entitled to under state law."
NBC Studios declined to comment. In a legal filing, the General Electric Co. unit said the lawsuits do not qualify for class status.
In 2003, Harris' firm filed four lawsuits seeking class status for actors, camera assistants and film crews against more than 100 studios, production companies and payroll services. The suits accuse the companies of regularly issuing late paychecks often more than a week and sometimes months after the scheduled pay period. Those lawsuits involve as many as 200,000 potential class-members.
The most recent round of lawsuits could involve as many as 250 retired and off-duty police officers, Harris estimates. He declined to say how many will be participating in the suits. No hearing has yet been set to determine whether the plaintiffs qualify for class status.
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