On December 14, 2011, Jennifer O’Neill filed an unpaid overtime lawsuit against Lady Gaga, one of the most successful recording artists of all-time, for failing to pay her time and one half when she worked over 40 hours per week. The Plaintiff, Ms. O’Neill was employed as Lady Gaga’s personal assistant from 2009 until March 2011. Rather than being paid an hourly rate plus overtime, Plaintiff was paid a salary regardless of the number of hours actually worked. The complaint alleges entitlement to over $350,000 in unpaid overtime. In order to defeat the case, Lady Gaga will have to show Plaintiff was exempt and therefore not entitled to premium overtime pay. Exemptions are affirmative defenses and carry a high burden. Generally speaking, a personal assistant would not be exempt under the administrative exemption, this entitling them to overtime pay.
The facts of the case illustrate a common misconception in the business community, namely that if employees are paid on salary, they are not entitled to overtime pay. This is simply not true. If a person works over 40 hours a week, they should call an employment lawyer to determine if they are owed overtime.