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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Hairy Situation for Workers in Wage Suits Arises From Ruling

A Beverly Hills hair model plans to appeal a published appellate ruling that could have a wide-ranging impact on an entire branch of employment litigation.


Last month, a panel in 2nd Appellate District affirmed a lower court decision rejecting claims brought by Amanza Smith, who sued L’Or & #233;al USA Inc. saying she and other models working mostly on Los Angeles hair shows were entitled to back wages because they did not receive checks immediately after the shows, as required under California law. Smith received her $500 check about two months after completing a one-day hair show in April 2001.


Under California labor codes, employees must be paid immediately “if an employer discharges an employee.” If an employer does not pay immediately, the employee is entitled to wages for each “waiting” day for up to 30 days. If an employee quits, the employer must pay wages within 72 hours.


Smith’s lawyer, Kevin Ruf, of counsel at Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP, said the law creates a “bizarre situation where an employee is protected if they quit, but under this ruling, if a person continues the job and finishes according to the expectation, they’re not entitled to be paid within any period of time in the law at all.”


William Carroll, a partner at Morgenstein & Jubelirer LLP representing L’Or & #233;al, said the models are independent contractors, not employees.


In affirming the ruling of a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, the appellate panel wrote that “discharge” under state law “does not include the completion of a set period of employment or specific task.”


The published ruling may affect individuals in other industries, such as day laborers, actors and crew members who have filed similar claims under the same labor codes.


Four lawsuits grouped together in Los Angeles Superior Court allege similar violations of the labor code by cast and crewmembers in the entertainment industry. Filed on behalf of 200,000 actors, camera assistants, lighting technicians, carpenters, drivers, painters and other crew members in California, the suits claim that more than 100 studios, production and payroll services companies do not issue paychecks immediately after a production wrap.


The combined suit, which is still pending, is seeking damages of up to $100 million.



Beverly Connections


Three-time Beverly Hills Mayor Tom Levyn has joined Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro LLP as a partner.


Levyn, who served one-year terms in 1996, 1999 and 2003, is leaving Agapay Levyn & Halling LLP, a firm established in 1974. Christensen Miller, which had been representing the city in its defense of a suit brought by Erin Brokovich over alleged illness caused by an oil well on city property, has recused itself as oversight counsel for the city in the case.


Levyn began his political career as a Beverly Hills City Councilman in 1992, helping to limit the number of mansions in the city and creating architectural reviews of homes. He also created legal risk management programs and served as the co-chief negotiator for the city in the police and fire departments’ employment agreements.



Manatt Moves


The head of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory LLP’s corporate and securities group in Century City has joined Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP as a partner.


Mark Kelson joined the firm with Scott Lochner, an intellectual property attorney also from Allen Matkins, who will serve of counsel. Kelson’s clients include investment banks, equity and venture funds, and Lochner’s clients are in the technology, health care and manufacturing industries.


Staff reporter Amanda Bronstad can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at

abronstad@labusinessjournal.com.

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