LOS ANGELES (CN) – Jennifer Lopez’s former driver and security chief claims in court that he was fired after he fell out favor with the singer’s manager, and that Lopez reneged on a deal to pay him $200,000 a year.
Hakob Manoukian sued Lopez, Nuyorican Productions and Lopez’s manager Benny Medina, in Superior Court.
Manoukian claims that Lopez and her then-husband (nonparty) Marc Anthony hired him as their full-time employee in April 2011, and that he closed his transportation and security business to work for them.
Manoukian claims he was hired as head of security and transportation for $72,000 a year, plus “production pay” when Lopez was filming or performing. That agreement bumped his wages up to roughly $200,000 per year, he says.
“Manoukian thereafter performed services under the employment contract; however, Manoukian did not receive all production pay to which he was entitled. Manoukian is informed and believes and based thereon alleges, that Nuyorican Productions, Lopez and/or her authorized agents have claimed production pay from production companies on behalf of individuals, but with the intent to retain the production pay for their own use, including production pay belonging to Manoukian.”
Manoukian says his relationship with Medina soured after the driver mentioned to a staff member that Medina had obtained an inflated quote for a private jet to fly Lopez to a private concert in the Ukraine.
Medina then “chastised and humiliated” the Iraq-born Manoukian during the 2011 filming of the upcoming comedy, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” according to the complaint.
“Medina told Manoukian he was not ‘presentable,’ that he could not speak English well enough, that it was a big mistake to hire Manoukian and that he was not sufficiently experienced to handle the job for Lopez,” according to the complaint.
In August 2011, Manoukian says, Medina “behaved outrageously” on productions for a Lopez music video and Fiat commercial, “subjecting him to extreme humiliation.”
“Because Medina had injured his foot, he had difficulty walking around the set. In an effort to help him, Manoukian obtained a golf cart, picked Medina up from his trailer, and drove him to the director’s area,” the complaint states. “Medina got out of the golf cart. Manoukian waited (believing Medina could not drive because of his injury). Medina then turned towards Manoukian, who was approximately 20 feet away from him, and yelled words to the effect of, ‘That’s my golf cart. Fucking leave it. Go find yourself another car.’ Medina made these comments in the presence of numerous members of the crew.”
The next month, Manoukian says, he was demoted, allowed to drive Lopez only in Los Angeles, and stripped of production pay.
Manoukian claims that amounted to constructive discharge, and that Lopez “permitted working conditions that were so intolerable or aggravated that a reasonable employer would realize that a reasonable person in Manoukian’s position would be compelled to resign.”
He claims that Lopez did not pay him all his final wages after he was fired.
Manoukian seeks damages for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, deceit, negligent misrepresentation, constructive fraud, quantum meruit, failure to pay overtime, failure to provide meal periods, conversion, Labor Code violations, unfair business practices, tortious interference with contract, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
He is represented by David Yeremian with Orshanksy & Yeremian of Encino.
Neither the law firm nor Lopez’s legal representative responded to requests for comment.