People who employ domestic employees or personal assistants may forget that such employees are doing productive work when they are under the control and/or direction of the employer and if those work hours exceed forty in a week, overtime is owed. Mariah Carey may have forgotten that truism as she has been sued for overtime by her assistant.  The employee claims she is owed money for managing the singer’s domestic affairs and for services performed while she traveled with her on tour.  The case is entitled Oliver v. Maroon Entertainment, Inc. and was filed in federal court in New York (with a claim under New York law as well).

The plaintiff claims she often worked sixteen hours a day, for the last seven years. Although the statute of limitations (SOL) under federal law is two years (with a possible third) the SOL under New York law is six years, posing a potentially significant exposure, even if only a single employee is involved.

The Complaint alleges that the “defendants willfully refused to pay plaintiff overtime wages, despite defendants’ knowledge that plaintiff was performing valuable work on defendants’ behalf and at defendants’ direction in excess of 40 hours per workweek.”

The plaintiff’s duties included cleaning and organizing Ms. Carey’s Manhattan apartment as well as doing the same at various hotel rooms in New York City when Ms. Carey’s family and guests visited.  The plaintiff also managed household tasks and attended Ms. Carey’s guests and the personal needs of the pop star and her family.  She also arranged for various services and repairs to the apartment and traveled with Ms. Carey during tours and vacations, performing much the same duties as she did when the singer was in New York.  These duties took up 6-7 days per week and averaged 10-16 hours per day, alleged the plaintiff.

The Takeaway

It is absolutely necessary to keep accurate records of hours worked by a domestic or a personal assistant.  These people are performing productive work, whatever day, whatever time of day, if they are directed to do things, whether explicitly or, more importantly, implicitly.  I recommend drafting an agreement, which may be just a single piece of paper, outlining duties and hours of work, with an acknowledgement that overtime will be paid for hours exceeding forty in a single work week.