Lady Gaga to Seek Court’s Applause in ‘Hood Rat’ Ex-Assistant Lawsuit
Trial over wage dispute will begin November 4
Lady Gaga is headed to court in a lawsuit filed by former roommate, friend, and personal assistant Jennifer O’Neill, who claims the ARTPOP diva cheated her out of overtime wages. The Associated Press reports that a jury will decide in November whether Gaga will pay O’Neill the $393,000, plus damages, she claims she’s owed. A trial is set to begin on November 4.
O’Neill alleges in her suit, which was first filed back in 2011, that she was on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week while she worked for Gaga for more than a year. According to U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, the plaintiff’s all-hours schedule potentially entitles her to overtime pay. As SPIN previously reported, the onetime friend to Mother Monster is demanding compensation for a total of 7,168 hours.
In a deposition videotaped last August, Gaga said that she doesn’t pay any of her employees overtime and that O’Neill was aware of this fact. Oh, and she also called O’Neill “a fucking hood rat” and insisted that the benefits of being in her employ outweighed the demands. Per Gaga: “She slept in Egyptian cotton sheets every night, in five-star hotels, on private planes, eating caviar, partying with [photographer] Terry Richardson all night, wearing my clothes, asking YSL [Yves Saint Laurent] to send her free shoes without my permission, using my YSL discount without my permission… It is, like, such an amazing luxury that I get to travel the world and have planes, she doesn’t even see what a luxury it is.”
Gaga, who reportedly made $80 million over the last year, added, “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 worked for the artist born Stefani Germanotta for one to two months in 2009, receiving a flat rate of $50,000 annually; she was then hired a second time by the “Applause” singer in February 2010 and kept on staff for 13 months, earning $75,000 annually. During that time, O’Neill’s duties included handling luggage, keeping track of email and telephone communications, arranging ice packs, tea, and a shower after performances, and setting up DVD players for the self-appointed “queen of the universe.”
“Every day is a work day for her, so every day is a work day for the rest of us,” O’Neill reportedly 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.”