Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The most metal employment law update ever!

Two of the most famous bands in the history of heavy metal are each facing lawsuits from former tour workers.

The family of a Kiss guitar tech, who died while quarantining in 2021 after contracting Covid while on tour with the band, is suing the band for wrongful death. According to a prior investigation by Rolling Stone, Kiss allegedly maintained lax Covid protocols on the tour in question — including a lack of testing and lots of crew members falling ill — that contributed to the roadie's death.

Meanwhile, an ex-tour photographer is suing Guns N' Roses for copyright infringement and sexual harassment. She claims that the band claimed ownership over numerous of her photos and used them in print and digital media, ad campaigns, and other outlets. She also alleges that the band's manager made "numerous unwelcome sexual advances" toward her and "committed consistent pervasive sexual harassment" in a "workplace environment that was completely devoid of any sexual harassment policy, sexual harassment handbook, sexual harassment training, and human resource department."

The bands, meanwhile, each paint a very different picture of what happened in their respective cases. 

Kiss says that it maintained Covid safety protocols "that met, but most often exceeded, federal, state, and local guidelines," but that during a global pandemic there was "no foolproof way to tour without some element of risk," especially when some crew members "concealed signs of illness" and "provided fake vaccination cards."

GnR says that the photographer only claimed infringement and sexual harassment after the band terminated her services as tour photograph after 12 years of service, and that the band has a written agreement under which it owns all photos she took of the band. Her lawsuit, GnR says, is pure retaliation against it because it stopped using her services.

Employers, when a former employee sues you, welcome to the jungle. Litigation isn't paradise city. It's an expensive and time-consuming distraction. A lawsuit, however, is nothing more than a compilation of unproven allegations. The defendant has its own version of events, and the truth almost always lies somewhere in the middle. If your business is incorrectly accused of something, all you need is just a little patience. Don't cry. It's so easy to become frustrated or mad. Don't call Dr. Love. Call your friendly neighborhood employment lawyer and trust the process.