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An ex-musician for The Monkees says she was fired in a four-minute phone call after playing with the band for nearly 20 years and later was told it was because she didn’t look good onstage, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday.
Aviva Maloney is suing Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (two founding members of The Monkees), Warner Music Group and others involved with the band’s tours for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate disability and wrongful termination, among other claims.
Maloney, 57, plays saxophone, clarinet, keyboards and other instruments and says she was the first female member of the band when she joined the other members on their 30th Anniversary Tour in 1996.
She says she’s been described as Davy Jones’ best friend, and after his death in 2012, defendants gradually reduced her role in the band “because of her legally protected characteristics,” including her age, sex and disabilities.
A few days after she was fired in 2015 by musical director Wayne Avers, Maloney claims Tork told her husband that she should join Overeaters Anonymous because she was eating to resolve emotional problems and didn’t look good onstage. She claims Tork also complained that she didn’t wear makeup onstage and had fallen asleep at rehearsal.
Maloney says she was diagnosed with lupus, which causes fatigue, and rheumatoid arthritis in 2003, and the defendants knew of her illnesses because they were like family.
“Defendants failed to recognize that Plaintiff’s falling asleep at a rehearsal, if it happened, may have been a symptom of her disabilities, warranting reasonable accommodation,” states the lawsuit.
Her replacement is a woman under 40 years of age with no real or imagined disabilities, according to the complaint, which Maloney says is proof she was fired in substantial part because of her illness and age.
Additionally, Maloney claims the defendants intentionally misclassified her as an exempt employee to avoid paying overtime, and she wasn’t paid what she was owed at the time she was fired.
She’s suing for restitution, past and future lost wages and statutory and punitive damages.
Representatives of the band and WMG have not yet commented on the lawsuit.