J. Lo Facing Employment Lawsuit By Former Driver

May 24, 2012
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Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is facing an employment lawsuit by her former driver and security chief. Hakob Manoukian claims he was fired after he clashed with the singer’s manager, Benny Medina. His lawsuit seeks damages for a number of employment-related claims, including breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, deceit, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide meal periods, Labor Code violations, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

As reported by Courthouse News, Manoukian’s complaint alleges that Lopez and her former husband Marc Anthony hired him as their head of security and transportation in 2011. His base salary was $72,000 a year, plus “production pay” when Lopez was filming or performing. That agreement increased his take home pay to approximately $200,000 per year, according to the complaint. However, Manoukian claims he did not receive all of the production pay to which he was entitled.

Manoukian also contends that he was subject to abusive treatment by Medina. His relationship with Medina allegedly became contentious after the driver mentioned to a staff member that Medina had obtained an inflated quote for a private jet to fly Lopez to a private concert in the Ukraine. As detailed in the compliant, Medina then “chastised and humiliated” Manoukian during the 2011 filming of J. Lo’s new movie, What To Expect When You’re Expecting.

“Medina told Manoukian he was not ‘presentable,’ that he could not speak English well enough, that it was a big mistake to hire Manoukian and that he was not sufficiently experienced to handle the job for Lopez,” according to the complaint. Following several similar incidents, Manoukian claims he was demoted, stripped of certain job responsibilities, and denied production pay.

Manoukian claims that these actions amounted to constructive discharge, and that Lopez “permitted working conditions that were so intolerable or aggravated that a reasonable employer would realize that a reasonable person in Manoukian’s position would be compelled to resign.”
He also maintains that Lopez failed to pay him all his final wages after he was terminated.

As this case highlights, employment disputes involving those in the entertainment industry often play out both in the courtroom and the public spotlight. Therefore, it is important to retain an entertainment attorney who knows how to succeed in both arenas. For more information, please contact Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Sports and Entertainment Law Group.