This past week, a former film editor for the “Girls Gone Wild” franchise filed a class action in the Superior Court of the State of California alleging that Manta Films Inc. and GGW Direct LLC improperly classified him as an independent contractor, and consequently, denied him overtime pay. The former film editor, Philip Anagnos, has also brought this action against Joe Francis, the founder of “Girls Gone Wild.”
Anagnos claims as a film editor, he “worked very, very long” hours viewing footage and picking the best pornographic clips to use in the “Girls Gone Wild” films. Anagnos alleges that he was paid a flat rate of $170 per day regardless of the hours he worked. Anagnos further claims that he did not exercise sufficient control over his time and duties that would qualify him as an independent contractor.
Joe Francis has responded to these allegations with a threat to make the plaintiffs’ counsel “run for the hills.” According to Francis, the lawsuit is “nonsense” because Anagnos, as well as other editors, signed an arbitration agreement and release stating that the companies had paid him all wages owed. While Francis may believe that this release will carry the day, California wage and hour law appears to provide otherwise.
Similar to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, California’s Labor Code provides that an employee’s right to unpaid wages or overtime can only be released by the Department of Labor. Thus, any private agreement, such as the release signed by Anagnos, would likely not result in the waiver of an employee’s right to recover unpaid wages.
The lawsuit is entitled Anagnos v. Magna Production Inc, et al. and has been brought on behalf of a proposed class of 400 current or former employees of Manta Films Inc. and GGW Direct LLC who were allegedly misclassified as either independent contractors or exempt employees.