April 03, 2013 12:59pm PT by Jonathan Handel
'Fashion Police' Writers File $1 Million Wage Complaint
Writers on E!’s Fashion Police filed claims Wednesday with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) that could result in the cable TV network having to pay more than $1 million dollars in back wages, the Writers Guild announced. The writers allege that E! has broken state labor law by not compensating them for all of the regular and overtime hours they’ve worked, according to the guild.
The allegation is that Fashion Police ignores the California laws that require an employer to pay hourly employees their regular wage rate for all time worked in an eight-hour period. In addition, the law requires paying overtime for employment beyond eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek.
That’s a correct statement of the law, but it’s possible that the company is classifying the employees as salaried employees exempt from overtime. That’s unknown at this point. E! didn't answer The Hollywood Reporter's question on this point, but did say “E! values our Fashion Police writers and we pay them fairly and in full legal compliance.”
In any case, whether DLSE (and the courts, if it goes that far) would agree with an hourly classification is undetermined.
“The most I’ve been paid for a show has been for eight hours of work,” said Fashion Police writer Eliza Skinner in the WGA statement. “In reality, I put in anywhere from 12 to 32 additional hours on each show – time I should have been compensated for. On top of that is all the unpaid overtime we regularly work. There are some shows where we are required to work 16-hour days, from 2:30 p.m. until around 5:30 the following morning.”
The WGA West assisted with the filing. That’s an innovative tactic the guild has used before and is outside the scope of the union’s collective bargaining agreements. Fashion Police, hosted by Joan Rivers, Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos, is a comedy-variety show and in any case is not covered by the WGA agreement. In fact, if it were, the WGA says that some overtime requirements would not be applicable.
The WGA declined to provide copies of the filings to THR.
“We love writing for Fashion Police, but the company needs to do the right thing and pay us fairly for all the hard work and time we put into it,” said writer Bryan Cook in the WGA statement. “We’ve helped make it one of the network’s top-rated shows and E! needs to start treating us like professional writers.”
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