UPDATE: ‘Fashion Police’ Writers Say E! Broke State Labor Laws & Owe $1M In Wages

UPDATE, 1:09 PM: E! has responded to the claims that Fashion Police writers have made to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement office that the network owes them more than $1 million in back wages. “E! values our Fashion Police writers and we pay them fairly and in full legal compliance,” the network said today. The WGA West helped the reality TV scribes with the filing to the DLSE against the non-unionized show.

PREVIOUSLY, 11:38 AM: E!’s Joan Rivers-hosted fashion-dish panel show Fashion Police ran afoul of California law by not compensating its writers for all of the regular and overtime hours they’ve worked, according to a filing with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement office. Though the show is not unionized, the WGA West helped the writers with the legal paperwork and sent out this release today:

Los Angeles – Writers on E!’s Fashion Police filed claims today with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) that could result in the cable TV network having to pay more than one million dollars in back wages. The writers allege that E! has broken state labor law by not compensating them for all of the regular and overtime hours they’ve worked.

According to the writers, Fashion Police ignores the California laws that require an employer to pay hourly employees their regular wage rate for all time worked in an eight-hour period. In addition, the law requires paying overtime for employment beyond eight hours in any workday or more than 40 hours in any workweek.

“The most I’ve been paid for a show has been for eight hours of work,” said Fashion Police writer Eliza Skinner. “In reality, I put in anywhere from 12 to 32 additional hours on each show – time I should have been compensated for. On top of that is all the unpaid overtime we regularly work. There are some shows where we are required to work 16-hour days, from 2:30 p.m. until around 5:30 the following morning.”

“We love writing for Fashion Police, but the company needs to do the right thing and pay us fairly for all the hard work and time we put into it,” said writer Bryan Cook. “We’ve helped make it one of the network’s top-rated shows and E! needs to start treating us like professional writers.”

Writers Guild of America, West has provided legal assistance to the writers in their filings.

Comments (45)

  • So is Fashion Police under a Writer’s Guild contract? Or is the guild just helping out with this situation, trying to get the writers there to unionize? Are any E! shows union?

    Comment by Big Bob — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 11:48am PDT  
    • I know that Chelsea Lately and The Soup are both Union shows now.

      Comment by Ben — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:53pm PDT  
  • Tennis, anyone?

    Comment by mike Grindon — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:04pm PDT  
  • Pay these writers and most especially Eliza – she’s the best!!!

    Comment by Garth Sidious — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:04pm PDT  
  • That show has writers? Fooled me!

    Comment by Uhhh — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:13pm PDT  
    • Exactly. I can’t believe this low-rent and poor excuse of a show has writers. Please, put the dreadful Joan & Melissa Rivers team out of their misery. They are so overrated and disgusting.

      Comment by jen — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:20pm PDT  
    • If I was a writer, I don’t think I would admit I was one of the “writers” for Fashion Police. It’s like a chef admitting he once flipped burgers at McDonalds.

      Comment by Lacey — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:39pm PDT  
      • “If I ‘were’ a writer,” I, believe, is what you meant.

        Comment by M. Quinn — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 2:13pm PDT  
      • Hey you leave my burgers out of this! They’re made of more natural parts than Joan!

        Comment by Old MacDonald — Thursday April 4, 2013 @ 12:34am PDT  
  • It’s called Production. Producers and other staff do it ALL the time. They know there deal when they sign up. You receive the flat rate to get it done. Re-negotiate or leave. These crappy shows can exist because they aren’t union. The more union involvement, the less jobs for these entry level type shows. It hurts the younger people breaking in.

    Comment by jr — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:25pm PDT  
    • It hurts the younger people breaking in for the producers and other staff already there not to stand together and demand fair or, at the bare minimum, a legal amount of compensation for the jobs they do. A lot of workers banded together and fought hard to get those legal minimums in place.

      Comment by BHa — Thursday April 4, 2013 @ 4:56am PDT  
  • This is a crisis of Vilanchian proportions!

    Comment by (no)nothing — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:37pm PDT  
  • I’d kill to write on that show. Hire me!

    Comment by Fashion Police wannabe writer — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 12:58pm PDT  
  • E! pays bubkes. Everyone knows it.

    Comment by WriteBroad — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:04pm PDT  
  • This is easy…Dear Eliza, please produce your non-exempt timesheet where you reported the hours that you worked. Simply stating you worked overtime or worked a 16 hour day isn’t enough. Were you approved to work those hours? Did you properly report them? The employee has a responsibility here and an employer as large as E! can’t be expected to simply remember who Eliza is or how much she worked. They have a time reporting system, they have a payroll unit, they have a way to track time so if she’s worked overtime put it on your timesheet and if they don’t pay it or reject the timesheet then you have your proof.

    Comment by JJ — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:07pm PDT  
    • Who are you kidding “JJ”? – The show accepts the benefits of what these people write and should pay for it. Are you seriously saying that the show has no idea of the amount of time its writers are putting in? No idea of what they do all day? If your actors are saying the lines these people wrote, it’s too late to “reject” their time sheets that record the hours spent coming up with it. It’s the responsibility of the show to manage its workforce – sounds to me like they are doing an extremely poor job of it.

      Comment by LAGS — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:59pm PDT  
      • Lags, I didn’t say “the show” doesn’t have an idea of what they’re working I’m saying to use the time records because “the show” or “E!” isn’t a singular entity. To say ‘they’ or ‘the show’ knew is beyond vague. Who knew? Who processes their pay? What’s it based on? This isn’t some mom and pop shop we’re talking. This is a major corporation with thousands of employees and entire dept. dedicated to processing payroll. The employees need to determine if they’re exempt or non-exempt. This determines if they’re eligible for overtime or not. If they can verify they’re non-exempt then there are hourly pay records. If the pay records are not accurate then show how/when you worked in excess of 8 hours/in excess of 40 hours in a week.

        The employee has a responsibility. Period. Simply stating they worked overtime isn’t sufficient evidence it occurred. Saying “the show knew” is vague, unsubstantiated and won’t get them anywhere in verifying hours/back wages owed. You can’t think so narrowly.

        Also, this matter isn’t about the WGA stepping in and “negotiating” because if you’re a non-exempt employee then you have the legal right to overtime and this is a matter for the Dept. of Labor as it would be a violation of fair wage and labor.

        Comment by JJ — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 4:07pm PDT  
        • Well, luckily JJ, we (the writers) have all of that stuff. So we’re going to be just fine. You clearly don’t work in the television industry. Or anywhere in the entertainment industry, for that matter. Unions exist for a reason. To protect the people that do the work from the people that receive the profits. Chelsea’s writers are union. The Soup’s writers are union. We’re the only show that isn’t. Because E! is cheap and they think they can get away with it. And when those shows organized, they went through the same thing. We just want what is fair. We want a contract. By the way, we’re not a reality show. We’re a comedy/variety show. Look it up.

          Comment by Crazy 8 — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 6:49pm PDT  
    • One of the main issues is that the writers have no way to fill out their own timecards. They are always filled out for us. There have been episodes where we were expected to be at E! at 2:30pm and then were released from work the next morning at 9:00am with deadlines every 30 minutes throughout the night. No overtime was given and we were still given regular pay for an “8 Hour Shift.” This is why the WGA has stepped in to help with negotiations. If it were simple, I don’t think negotiations would have found themselves at this junction.

      Comment by former fashion police writer — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 2:56pm PDT  
  • This is hilarious.

    No one who works as a salaried/exempt employee makes overtime on a 40hr week. ESP not if you on a cable net show!!!! GOOD LUCK getting overtime recognized.

    I’m not saying it’s RIGHT< but it happens all day everyday in tvland.

    Comment by wahhh wahhh — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:37pm PDT  
    • The article says they are paid for 8 hrs, not 40.

      Comment by ughh ughh — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 1:57pm PDT  
      • State law mandates OT over 8 hours a week. Most other states OT kicks in after 40 hours a week.

        Comment by Karl in Burbank — Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 5:41pm PDT  
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