Court to Busta Rhymes: No 'celebrity exception' to public FLSA settlements
- Refusing to create a "celebrity exception" to Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) settlement rules, a federal district court said that Busta Rhymes could not keep an agreement with his former chauffeur out of the public eye (David Jones v. Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. aka Busta Rhymes aka Trevor George Smith, Jr. and Starbus LLC, No. 16-cv-2194 (E.D.N.Y., May 14, 2018)).
- David Jones alleged that the rapper failed to pay him required overtime pay, among other things. After a year of negotiations, the parties submitted a proposed settlement agreement with Busta Rhymes' lawyer arguing that the settlement should not be made public, in part, because of his client's celebrity status.
- Unlike many other settlement agreements, FLSA settlements require judicial approval, resulting in court documents available to the public. The law includes no celebrity or notoriety exception and creating one would disregard the intent of the law, the court said; “[S]hielding this settlement from public disclosure would convey the impression to the public that celebrities’ notoriety places them above the normal application of the law."
Employers would love to keep employment disputes out of the public eye for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the value of their brands.
Recent research suggests that employer brand — both that created by the company and that created by online reviews — can have a significant impact on a company's ability to attract talent. With savvy candidates looking at online reviews of businesses before they apply, employers are increasingly looking for ways to own their online brand.
Efforts must start with a strong internal brand and culture. Employers can then encourage workers to share their experiences, proactively manage social channels and promptly address any questions and concerns. Doing so can help employers avoid the recruiting barriers that arise when your brand has been tarnished.
If that happens, however, transparency is key, Greg Moran, president and CEO of OutMatch previously told HR Dive. Respond promptly and appropriately to negative reviews. Be open and honest if a job candidate brings up a negative post. If questions are raised, address them directly, Moran said.
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York David Jones v. Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr. aka Busta Rhymes aka Trevor George Smith, Jr. and Starbus LLC
- HR Dive Damage control: Recruiting talent when your brand has been tarnished