Overview

From baseball fields to backstage, the sports and entertainment sectors present unique challenges in labor and employment law. While often typecast as outside the norms of traditional corporate rulebooks, media conglomerates and sports franchises operate in the public eye and know that even the smallest misstep can have a big impact on profits and reputation.

Constangy’s sports and entertainment group is led by attorneys with significant frontline experience working with and for numerous sporting and entertainment leagues, teams, and other entities. With the strength and depth of our bench, we are able to help industry clients navigate their most critical employment issues successfully. 

What Sets Us Apart

We have attorneys who have spent years as insiders in the industry, in both legal and business roles. We have practitioners with in-house employment law experience at major media conglomerates with holdings in film, television, broadcasting, cable, music, theme park and retail operations; as well as national sports leagues and individual sporting teams.

In the entertainment and media worlds, our experience working on the “inside” gives us client-centered knowledge of the issues that arise on film and television productions, studio lot facilities, post-production (editing, sound, dubbing, digital distribution), news stations and theme parks. We understand the challenges of dealing with a variety of types of employees including talent (and their outside representatives), union and non-union crew, employees in supporting functions such as accounting, publicity and sales, as well as lower-wage workers in janitorial, food prep and seasonal work.

When it comes to sports, Constangy attorneys have worked in-house and as outside counsel for a wide range of collegiate, professional, and non-profit sports entities (including Olympic National Governing Bodies). We are versed in Title IX compliance and have handled numerous matters on behalf of the NCAA and its member institutions. Moreover, as with our general entertainment experience, we are versed in all aspects of professional sports operations, and the variety of employment issues that ensue—from broadcasting, to arena operations, to the athletes and coaches on the field.

What We Do

  • Advising entertainment and sports executives and companies on compliance with labor and employment laws in the unique environments of the entertainment and sports industries.
  • Developing management and staff training on avoiding discrimination and harassment claims on productions, as well as use of social media and confidentiality requirements.
  • Creating policies and agreements used with executives in entertainment companies and sports organizations both in the hiring stage and negotiation of exits.
  • Creating policies and handbooks suited to the entertainment and sports industries and conducting related internal investigations.
  • Assisting with reorganization planning, layoffs, mergers, WARN Act compliance, and due diligence on acquisitions of subsidiary companies.
  • Conducting exempt status reviews for administrative and production employees and representing management in wage and hour litigation matters.
  • Counseling with respect to vendors and use of staffing agency employees.
  • Providing representation in contract disputes (including concerning restrictive covenants), disciplinary hearings, and grievance proceedings.
  • Advising in additional employment-law areas including labor relations, OSHA, ERISA, workers’ compensation, immigration, as well as in cross-over industries such as education (including Title IX), franchise, retail and construction.

Representative Matters*

Representative Matters*

  • Obtained dismissal in a wage and hour class action lawsuit claiming that the student-athletes in the NCAA’s 361 Division I universities are employees and owed back wages for sports related activities under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Representing the NCAA in a class action lawsuit claiming that the student-athletes in the NCAA’s Pac-12 universities are employees and owed back wages for sports related activities under California state wage and hour laws.
  • Represented professional sports team in contract dispute with former executive.
  • Represented sports marketing firm in enforcing restrictive covenant against departing employee.
  • Assisted Major League Baseball club in salary arbitration cases.
  • Represented athletes and agents in grievance arbitrations.
  • Represented professional drag racing team in class action alleging meal/rest, overtime and related claims on behalf of racing mechanics and pit workers.
  • Represented national newspaper company in class action alleging unlawful classification of newspaper delivery staff as independent contractors.
  • Represented advertising agencies in multi-defendant wage hour class action brought by Screen Actors Guild members.
  • Represented provider of caddies for a large golf resort hosting professional tournaments a threatened representative action (PAGA) involving the business model in California for use of caddies at golf resorts.
  • Regularly hired by a major television network to provide anti-harassment training to talent, crew and supervisors on sitcom and drama productions in Hollywood, New York, and Atlanta.
  • Advised international reality show production company on development of employee handbooks, templates for settlement agreements, application of disability discrimination rules and special issues involving nonunion crew.
  • Outside counsel to well-known advertising agency representing major studios on commission agreements, handbooks, executive contracts and leave of absence issues.
  • Represented and advised major broadcaster during investigation of SAG-AFTRA complaints concerning use of broadcast resources by candidates for union office.
  • Advised cable show producer on #metoo related harassment and discrimination allegations against well-known showrunner during several production seasons.
  • Represented theme park and studio operations divisions of major media company in age and gender discrimination litigation.
  • Represent television networks in employment litigation in both state and federal court.
  • Conducted several high-profile investigations and present findings to network and production executives.

* Some of the listed representations occurred at attorneys’ places of employment prior to Constangy.

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