LOS ANGELES (CN) – While Johnny Depp can seemingly transition into the characters of a pirate, a drug dealer and the Mad Hatter in his film roles, his former bodyguards said he was a lousy employer as he did not provide them overtime and rest pay and allegedly tasked them to become his caretaker, according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday.
Eugene Arreola and Miguel Sanchez were employed by a California security firm and protected Depp, 54, and his family for several years. They were retained after Depp dropped their security firm, Premier Group International, to save money in 2016.
Prior to that, Arreola and Sanchez said they noticed Depp became “detached from the reality around him” and made sudden and drastic changes to his staff and management.
Depp, known for roles in "The Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Cry-Baby," created a hostile and toxic work environment for his two former bodyguards, according to the complaint.
Arreola, a retired Los Angeles Police detective with 39 years in law enforcement, and Sanchez, a bodyguard who worked on film sets, were told they would not be paid for more than 12 hours a day, including overtime and rest pay, despite being told they would be retained as full employees under the new management.
Arreola was not paid overtime wages from May 2016 through January 2018 and Sanchez experienced the same pay discrepancy from May 2016 through April 2018.
Ultimately, the men said they were classified independent contractors, when instead they should have been classified as hourly, non-exempt employees.
On top of the pay issue, the two men said they were thrown into chaos as they found themselves as the Depp family's chauffeurs and caretakers.
“Plaintiffs found themselves in situations that required more than what a bodyguard would be expected to do,” according to the 24-page lawsuit.
While the men were asked to chauffeur Depp’s family, they were also asked to drive cars with illegal substances, open containers and minors, according to the complaint.
The two men were tasked with watching over “unstable individuals” in Depp’s entourage and there was a time they had to tell Depp he had "illegal substances" on his face and body while he was at a nightclub, the complaint says.
Sanchez’ primary duty was to protect Depp’s children, but he was also the primary caretaker for Depp’s minor child who lived in a separate house.
Sanchez said he also had to rush his supervisor, Leonard Damian, who accidentally shot himself in the leg while he was “playing with his weapon in a small control room on Johnny Depp’s property” and as a result, Arreola and Sanchez suffered stress related injuries from working in a hostile and unsafe work environment.
Eventually, the two men said they were punished when they asked why they were not being given appropriate breaks and overtime pay. Arreola’s hours were reduced. When Sanchez asked for time off to take his sick mother to a doctor’s appointment, he was denied the time off and then only after he asked for the afternoon off was he taken out of the work schedule for several days, according to the complaint.
Despite all this, the men said they enjoyed the many people they worked with and had no ill will toward Depp, but they had to leave their employment due to the toxic work environment.
The former bodyguards are represented by attorney Tamar G. Arminak, based in Los Angeles County. They named Depp, Scaramanga Bros. Inc, Depp's corporation whose name was on their checks, Edward White, who is listed as the chief financial officer for the corporation and Damian. They seek damages for labor code violations including overtime pay, meal and rest periods and wrongful termination.
A phone call to Scaramanga Bros. for comment was not immediately returned.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.