Toni Jaramilla, A Professional Law Corporation - Los Angeles Employment Attorney

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Pay Up Hollywood

Advocacy For Hollywood Assistants With Low Wages And Poor Working Conditions

Wage and hour disparities affect employees in many industries and workplaces, including on Hollywood sets. Hollywood-made TV shows and movies are big moneymakers, and a great deal of that money goes to big names known to the public as actors, actresses, directors and others with recognizable stand-out roles in film making. Meanwhile, much of the tedious work that goes into the making of world-class TV programs and movies is done by poorly paid assistants handing areas such as:

  • Costumes
  • Makeup
  • Sound
  • Lighting
  • Special effects
  • Stunts
  • Set design
  • Film editing
  • Research
  • Publicity
  • Personal assistance to producers

Unfortunately for workers handling these and many other areas of film making and promotion, assistants’ pay has been notoriously low for years. The cost of living in the Los Angeles area has risen dramatically and while major TV producers, moviemaking companies’ executives and well-known actors may be making much more money than they once did, Hollywood’s vast army of assistants has struggled with stagnated paychecks for decades. Many have been working for $12 an hour, the minimum wage in California, without raises or benefits. Others have been coerced to work off the clock as a matter of course.

Wage And Hour Disparities And The Power Of Social Media

The problem of poor pay for Hollywood assistants came to light on a large scale in the fall of 2019, when TV writer and Writers’ Guild of America board member Liz Alper initiated a movement that came to be known by its hashtag label: #PayUpHollywood. She spearheaded the collection of stories of exploitation of assistants. It quickly took off and thousands of such assistants had offered up their testimonies within a few days’ time.

Signs Of Hope

Since then, the movement has undertaken other roles besides the job of highlighting the underpayment of entertainment business assistants. For example, #PayUpHollywood collected and then distributed funds to benefit temp workers and other assistants who lost income with the onslaught of COVID-19. The rapid spread of the virus prompted California’s stay-at-home order, with damaging economic effects locally as well as nationwide.

A Tough Tradition To Tackle

Producers and others in high places often insist that they “paid their dues” when starting out. They seem to believe today’s assistants should be willing to do the same in a highly popular line of work, even when it means ignoring the blatant violation of wage and hour laws. Others with detailed insight into the phenomenon of low pay in the TV and movie industries have pointed to a culture of exploitation that has long been the norm.

Get A Lawyer’s Take On Your Circumstances As An Underpaid Hollywood Assistant

At Toni Jaramilla, A Professional Law Corporation, we urge you to reject the narrative that exploitation through violation of wage and hour laws is an inevitable part of a Hollywood career path. If you have your own stories to tell about wage and hour violations in the TV or movie business in the Los Angeles area and would like to do more than complain on social media, make an appointment with one of our attorneys.

We are an experienced, accomplished law firm focused on employees’ rights in this metro area and throughout California. We stand up for our clients’ civil and Constitutional rights. Our trial lawyers have a track record going back for more than two decades with many favorable outcomes to date for employees in many fields, including Hollywood assistants. We are eager to hear about what has happened to you and share how we can help.

To schedule a discussion with a lawyer, call 310-551-3020 or send a quick email inquiry through this website. We pledge to respond quickly and listen attentively to your concerns in a free initial half-hour consultation.

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