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Talent agent sues over disability discrimination, termination

Hollywood can be a tough town. The latest story of someone being chewed up and spit out comes from a talent agent who is suing Resolution Entertainment Agency. The agent says the talent agency terminated him just weeks after persuading him to leave rival giant International Creative Management (ICM).

The plaintiff is asking for unspecified damages for numerous violations, including breach of contract, disability discrimination, and wrongful termination.

Some of the plaintiff’s claims involve the agency’s failure to make accommodations for his physical ailments — accommodations that he says were promised before he left ICM. The agent, who is in his seventies, says he agreed to take a lower salary than Resolution offered him in return for being allowed to fly in first class seating on business trips. He says this is necessary because of the pain he suffers.

According to the suit, the plaintiff was promised that he could work from home when necessary because he sometimes has problems sitting or driving. However, he says he was harassed and accused of not doing his job when he stayed home, as well as when he took time off for medical appointments.

Within a few weeks of moving to Resolution, the plaintiff says he was fired because his star client, singer Frankie Valli, did not switch agencies with him. The agent says that the singer, who is worth six figures in commissions since the Broadway hit about The Four Seasons, “Jersey Boys,” declined to leave ICM and follow him to Resolution. The agent says this is because the singer was excluded from negotiations.

Finally, according to the suit, Resolution never provided the agent with a final copy of the two-year contract he had negotiated. He says the agency is in financial difficulty because they have paid too much to lure agents away from ICM, as they did with him.

There seem to be lessons to be learned here on all sides. It is essential to get everything in writing from a potential employer before leaving your current one — particularly when special accommodations are involved. This should also be a lesson to employers to be very careful in dealing with an employee with any disability. Disability rights advocates have fought long and hard for protections for disabled workers.

Courthouse News Service, “Nasty Fight Between Hollywood Agents” Matt Reynolds, Sep. 23, 2013

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