Money Honey: Lady Gaga's personal assistant takes her to court over 7,000 hours of unpaid overtime claim

The singer's former PA claims she was not paid for overtime work and was not allowed any personal time off

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

A former personal assistant to Lady Gaga, who claims she was not paid for more than 7,000 hours of overtime, can take her case to trial, a judge has ruled.

Jennifer O’Neill, a onetime roommate and friend of the "Born This Way" singer, claims she was not allowed any personal time and was on call 24 hours a day seven days a week.

O’Neill worked for the Gaga for around two months in early 2008 and for13 months from February 2010.

US District Judge Paul Gardephe has set a trial date for 4 November at which point a jury will decide O’Neill’s claim. He said both sides agreed O'Neill was expected to be available every hour of every day she worked.

Gardephe ruled that O'Neill's “on-call” time potentially qualifies for overtime compensation.

O'Neill said she was paid a flat rate of about $50,000 (£32,000) annually when she was first hired and $75,000 (£48,000) annually the second time.

According to Forbes magazine Gaga is estimated to have earned $80 million in the first six months of this year.

Lawyers for both sides did not immediately comment.

In his written decision, Gardephe noted that lawyers said Gaga, listed in the litigation under her birth name — Stefani Germanotta — and O'Neill frequently slept in the same bed because O'Neill never had her own hotel room while on tour and was required to address Lady Gaga's needs throughout the night.

O'Neill had testified in a deposition that if Gaga was watching a DVD in the middle of the night and grew tired of it, she woke her up to take out and replace the DVD.

“Every day is a work day for her, so every day is a work day for the rest of us,” she said. “There is no, 'We're going to stay in, we're going to sleep.' There is no, 'Let's put on sweatpants and go out to the movies and be girlfriends.' It doesn't work like that,” O'Neill said.

In her deposition Gaga testified: “You don't get a schedule. You don't get a schedule that is like you punch in and you can play ... at your desk for four hours and then you punch out at the end of the day. This is when I need you, you're available.”

O'Neill claimed she was responsible for sometimes monitoring the singer's email and telephone communications and for handling all her luggage — generally 20 bags — including clothing, accessories, makeup and toiletries.

She was also responsible for making sure that “special food” was available at every location and for making sure the singer arrived at performances on time and had ample time for hairstyling, makeup and voice warm-ups and that she appeared on stage on time, O'Neill said.

She said she assisted with costume changes during performances and was responsible afterwards for arranging ice packs, tea and a shower, along with dinner and an exit from the venue.

The judge noted that the women met after Gaga moved into O'Neill's apartment building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan before 2008, when they became roommates and friends. O'Neill was offered a position as her personal assistant because they were friends and she had experience in the music industry, court papers said.

Additional reporting by AP