In prior articles I have alluded that the many people think becoming an entertainment lawyer can be a romantic existence. Yet the brass-tacks principles of employment law plus the harshness of employee severance and termination scenarios often overtake that romanticism. Being an entertainment lawyer entails much more than hanging-out with talent backstage or around the tour bus. In prior articles I have also alluded that artists often times have “day jobs” providing their paying employment to subsidize their artistic ventures. As a New York entertainment attorney who was raised in a show business family amid performers, I’m employed to this. Most of these artists mean to abandon these day jobs, with or without a jobs severance package, after they get signed into a development deal, record contract, or elsewhere “make it”. But what goes on in the meantime? What if a designer works for a company that offers to jettison her or him as an employee, as opposed to the other way around? What if this company counts on using a jobs severance package like a hedge against probability of an after-occurring wrongful-termination lawsuit?
These previous years have comprised an especially bad in time terms of employee and contractor lay-offs and firings. As a working entertainment lawyer in New York I have seen many artists as well as others downscale and change jobs nowadays. Many situations which accustomed to prompt a severance package to materialize inside the prior decade, tend not to do so any further. The fact on the matter is, a large proportion of employees along with other workers misplay the handling with their job exit, in the case when it occurs from the employment law context. In the interests of employee and worker empowerment prior to blue-ink dries within the release and settlement agreement or any other severance documents, this informative article follows. Though published by me as being a media and entertainment attorney dealing with entertainers, a similar principles sign up for employment work with other industries and sectors.
I suppose that the primary rule of employee empowerment is very pedestrian-sounding, but important. An employee must read and review every employment document associated with his or her job and career, carefully – such as following disclaimer. The employee should secure counsel promptly, should they sees any legal issue looming within the horizon which could affect the employee’s career or rights – including legal issues associated with employment and severance packages. As an entertainment lawyer friend and entertainment law professor of mine accustomed to say, “every deal is different”. What applies within a employment context may not affect the next one. The employee must ensure that he or she seeks individualized legal counsel as to any important matter regarding the employee’s career or rights generally. It is not uncommon a soon-to-be-terminated worker starts calling attorneys when offered a work severance package.
There are attorneys, entertainment attorneys and otherwise, who routinely handle “employee-side” legal matters. A number of attorneys may be able to achieve this affordably for only a modestly-compensated employee, inside context of a severance proposal or otherwise not. An employee-side lawyer must be accustomed to representing folks who suffer from limited money, and this is really a particularly-familiar fact-pattern to have an entertainment lawyer handling artist-side work. There are parallels. And, in the event that one is not much of a lawyer, you should no sooner handle ones own legal work than handle your dental or medical needs oneself. The severance and employee-exit scenario frequently entails some analysis of employment legal issues governing the exit. Given the economic realities faced by those inside artistic world, all entertainment lawyers have to be familiar with these employment legal issues.