The state Labor Commissioner is suing a film production company for allegedly firing an employee because she reported violations of work conditions pertaining to minors on film sets.
Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower brought the complaint Tuesday against D Street Films LLC, seeking back pay on behalf of the teacher, Lorraine Hendricks-Stewart, as well as $20,000 in fines and both compensatory and punitive damages.
D Street Films works from locations in Beverly Hills, Glendale and Woodland Hills, the suit states. A representative for the company could not be reached for comment.
Hendricks-Stewart was hired by the company in May 2015 as a studio teacher assigned to protect the health, safety, welfare and morals of minors working on the production, according to the suit.
Hendricks-Stewart had authority to interfere when necessary to ensure that minors were not subjected to inappropriate behavior or labor violations and her daily pay was $225, the suit states.
On several occasions, Hendricks-Stewart observed that D Street Films violated labor laws by failing to obtain work permits for children of staff members, according to the suit. The same month she was hired, Hendricks-Stewart found out that the company brought a minor to film a scene past the 10 p.m. deadline time set for minors under the state Labor Code, according to the suit.
Hendricks-Stewart told the company that having the minor present violated state labor laws and that the child should be released right away, the suit states. Using her authority under the law, Hendricks-Stewart prevented the minor from continuing to work, according to the suit.
A matter of days later, a producer for the company sent Hendricks-Stewart a text message stating that she was being fired “because she had interrupted filming,” the suit states.
Hendricks-Stewart filed a complaint alleging retaliation with the Labor Commissioner, which enlisted the help of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to investigate Hendricks-Stewart’s complaint, the suit states. The DLSE determined that the company violated sections of the Labor Code and its findings were adopted by the Labor Commissioner, the suit states
Despite the findings, D Street Films has refused to comply with the Labor Commissioner’s orders, which include paying Hendricks-Stewart lost wages and benefits, to pay the civil fines demanded and to post a notice of the commissioner’s orders to the defendant’s employees for 60 days, the suit states.
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