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Thursday, May 2, 2024 | Back issues
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Tommy Lee Described|as a Chintzy Boss

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former assistant claims rocker Tommy Lee stiffed him for overtime, illegally docked his pay, refused to reimburse him for business expenses, charged him rent on a place he didn't live, and defamed him in the music business, costing him jobs with other rock bands.

Michael Anthony Sullivan sued Tommy Lee and Mayhem Touring in Superior Court.

Lee, a drummer, in 1981 was a founder of the glam metal band Motley Crue, which has sold more than 80 million albums. He also is a founding member of the rap-metal band Methods of Mayhem and an electronic music DJ.

Sullivan says he began working as Lee's assistant in 2005, fulfilling a welter of roles, including "procurer, Man Friday, chauffeur, guide, bookkeeper, attendant, door-keeper, agent, butler, valet, attendant, cook, runner, shopper, nanny, bodyguard, maid, nurse and nursemaid."

Sullivan says he was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Lee found Sullivan so useful that he required him to stay at his residence so that he was always available for service," the complaint states. "However, after requiring Sullivan to stay at the home and obtaining the benefits of Sullivan's presence in his home, in 2009, Lee began deducting $1,000 from his wages every month for 'rent.' Lee continued to deduct the $1,000 'rent' payments from Sullivan's wages during the six months prior to Sullivan's termination, even though Sullivan no longer lived in Lee's home."

After describing the range of chores he performed, including "babysitting for Lee's two children and tending to the needs of Lee's elderly, infirm mother," the complaint continues: "In general, while acting as Lee's assistant at home, Sullivan estimates that he regularly worked more than eight hours per day. Furthermore, although Sullivan was frequently required to make purchases for Lee and his family members with his own funds, on many occasions, Lee failed to reimburse Sullivan for these work-related expenses. Instead, Lee regularly and improperly deducted wages from Sullivan's paychecks for work-related expenses. For example, in addition to improperly deducting rent payments from Sullivan's paychecks after he no longer lived in Lee's residence, Lee regularly and improperly deducted wages for cell phone charges that were associated with work-related phone calls Sullivan had made on Lee's behalf. Lee also improperly deducted wages from Sullivan's paycheck to cover the insurance deductible for an accident that Sullivan had been involved in while taking Lee's car to a mechanic to repair its faulty brakes."

Sullivan says Lee and Mayhem Touring paid him the same weekly salary regardless of how much he worked, which at times exceeded 100 hours.

"Indeed, rather than properly compensating Sullivan in accordance with the applicable labor laws, defendant Lee docked Sullivan's wages for various reasons. For instance, defendant Lee often docked Sullivan's wages when he chose to work remotely from a location other than Lee's home, when Lee was out of town. If Sullivan happened to be late to work, Lee would dock plaintiff's wages. Indeed, if Lee was upset with Sullivan for any reason, he would often find a reason to dock his pay. Lee's practice of docking plaintiff's wages confirms that the parties understood that plaintiff was a non-exempt employee," according to the complaint.

"In addition to failing to compensate Sullivan for all hours worked at overtime wage rates, Lee also failed to provide Sullivan with a paid ten-minute rest period for every four hours worked. Furthermore, there existed no policy allowing Sullivan to take a 30-minute unpaid meal period for every five hours worked. In fact, often when Lee's schedule was particularly busy, Sullivan was forced to eat on the run if he was able to eat at all.

"Sullivan's employment with defendants ended on or about March 31, 2011. After the termination of his employment, Sullivan has learned that defendant Lee has been and is currently engaged in a campaign of disparagement against him and that Lee has defamed Sullivan to various individuals in the music industry in which they both work. Lee's disparagement of Sullivan began shortly after the termination of Sullivan's employment, when Lee was on tour in South America with Motley Crue and continues to date. These documented remarks include, but are not limited to stating that plaintiff is untrustworthy and performed illegal and improper acts while employed by Tommy Lee. These disparaging and defamatory remarks are false and were made solely with the purpose to disparage and in order to interfere with plaintiff's ability to earn a living in the music industry. Lee's statements have damaged Sullivan's reputation and have interfered with Sullivan's existing and potential employment opportunities and business associations. Indeed, due to Lee's irresponsible and defamatory comments, plaintiff lost at least two jobs, both tour manager positions with prominent rock bands. The first position, with the band Godsmack, would have lasted a minimum of five weeks and Sullivan would have earned an income of $3,000 per week. The second position was to be the tour manager for the band Bush."

Sullivan says the Bush job would have paid $3,000 a week for 11 weeks, and that he lost that one too "due to Lee's defamatory statements and interference."

Sullivan seeks unpaid overtime and his unreimbursed business expenses, compensation for lost profits and business opportunities, and punitive damages for defamation, intentional and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, violations of business and labor laws, and emotional distress.

He is represented by Alan Harris with Harris & Ruble.

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