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Roadie Complains of Pot Smoke on Band Bus

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A long-time roadie sued Chris Isaak, claiming the bandleader fired him for protesting the mistreatment of women and the choking clouds of marijuana smoke on the tour bus.

Lane Hirsch also sued H. Powell Inc., H.K. Management and Tim Lamb, on 17 causes of action, in Superior Court. Charges include discrimination, wrongful firing, defamation, retaliation and Labor Code violations.

Hirsch says he worked for Isaak for 17 years, as a lighting designer and technician.

He claims Isaak and his management misclassified him as a salaried employee, to duck overtime payments and other labor laws.

Hirsch claims things got bad in 2010, when Isaak hired Tim Lamb as tour production manager. Just two women worked on the tour that year, according to the complaint.

"Lamb repeatedly told these women (and announced to others) that 'a woman's place is not on tour' and that 'girls are meant to stay home where they belong,'" Hirsch says in the complaint. "Lamb would frequently yell at both women, chastising them until they broke into tears. Lamb specifically referred to one of the women as a 'cunt' and as a 'bitch.'"

Two of Lamb's underlings prohibited one woman from talking on the tour bus "because they didn't want 'to have to listen to little girls chattering on the bus,'" according to the complaint.

Hirsch claims Lamb verbally and physically abused him.

Hirsch says he told Isaak about the behavior and that Isaak knew that Lamb and his cohorts "constantly and publicly called plaintiff 'gay,' 'fag' and 'little girl.' Often in front of other crew people, they would make comments to plaintiff such as 'blow me,' and 'suck my dick you little fag,'" the complaint states.

Hirsch claims Lamb's men roughed him when they "purposefully slammed a door in plaintiff's face," "pushed him on the tour bus and trapped him against the wall," and "slammed their work cases into him and on several occasions threatened to beat him up."

Hirsch claims that Isaak knew the tour bus, where Hirsch lived, was befouled by frequent marijuana and cigarette smoking, exposure to which caused him to cough and have difficulty breathing.

"Knowing the smoking to be illegal, plaintiff complained about it on numerous occasions to Isaak, and other managers ... but to no avail," the complaint states.

When Lamb learned that Hirsch had complained to Isaak, he told Hirsch, "Good luck with your career because when I am through with you, you won't have one," according to the complaint.

Hirsch claims that Isaak told him that his job was "protected," causing him to reject other job offers, but that eight days after defendants told him he would be very busy with work for the 2012 season, he was fired without notice.

He seeks lost pay, damages, punitive damages and costs.

He is represented by Jennifer Schwartz, of San Rafael.

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