New York Fashion Week producers William Morris Endeavor ("WME") and IMG have been slapped with a lawsuit on the heels of February's Fall/Winter 2015 shows. According to the proposed class action suit, which was filed by Brian Davis, a member of NYFW's "House Crew," WME/IMG failed to adequately pay him and other crew members for their work on the bi-annual fashion events.
Davis claims that for six week periods leading up to the runway shows, he and fellow NYFW crew members "regularly worked over 100 hours per week without ever receiving premium overtime pay" of one and one-half time the regular rate. Their tasks reportedly consisted of "handling the logistics of Fashion Week including providing support to vendors and contractors; managing the delivery, warehousing and disbursement of supplies; and managing the delivery, setting up and breaking down of furniture and barricades."
Davis alleges in his complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of New York court, that he hired at a rate of $30 per hour since 2007 with work weeks regularly consisting of “60 to 110 hours per week” between August 2009 and March 2014. He also alleges that WME-IMG "willfully disregarded and purposefully evaded record keeping requirements" in violation of federal and state law and failed to provide "adequate statements of wages listing hours worked, rates paid, gross wages, allowances, and deductions taken, and net wages paid."
While Davis claims he did receive "a bonus check to raise plaintiff's average hourly rate to the regular rate for all hours worked during that Fashion Week period," he is still alleging that he was not adequately compensated for his work and as a result, is asking the court to award him damages for WME-IMG's violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. Due to the lawsuit's proposed class action status, if approved by the court, additional house crew members will be invited to join the suit and share in the settlement amount.
The lawsuit filing comes after last week's announcement that WME-IMG has officially acquired MADE Fashion Week, a venture started in 2009 to support emerging designers. According to a statement from WME-IMG, MADE will continue to operate as a separate entity, and its leadership team (think: Keith Baptista, Mazdack Rassi, and Jenné Lombardo) will continue to oversee day-to-day operations, while consulting on WME-IMG’s broader fashion events strategy. MADE Fashion Week, which has featured approximately 30 runway shows and presentations each season, will align with its new parent company for additional additional opportunities and creative resources for both entities’ designers and partners.