David Copperfield can’t just wave his hand and make this problem disappear: The 57-year-old magician is being sued by a group of stagehands and technicians who allege they were denied overtime pay and punished for pursuing it while working for his Las Vegas show.
The employees were entitled to overtime pay for working in excess of 40 hours per week, the suit alleges, but Copperfield “consciously implemented a system of coercion and deception aimed at denying employees their rights to overtime pay.” Specifically, the day-rate workers, were allegedly given titles that did not match their job descriptions.
“For instance, the majority of the employees engaged at the show had a job title of ‘Illusion Specialist/Creative Associate,’ even though they performed mundane functions of a stagehand, spotlight operator, light-board operator, electrician, show assistant, technician, etc. As another example, many employees responsible for running Copperfield’s errands, doing laundry, shopping, moving, driving, etc. were given a job title of ‘Executive Assistant’ and were denied overtime pay.”
The employees’ checks, the suit says, did not note how long they worked each week.
“Each time an employee would bring a question of overtime pay or the conditions of his or her employment to the Defendants, he was instantly intimidated to withdraw his demands,” the suit reads. “Instead of addressing the employees’ demands, the Defendants reminded the employees of their unique chance to work for Copperfield and demanded sacrifice.”
“Don’t be fooled by these claims,” Copperfield’s attorney responded in a statement. “They have it all backwards. David and his company are the ones that have been wronged here. Evidence shows that David’s trade secrets and intellectual property have been systematically revealed, and this lawsuit is smoke and mirrors to cover up a much bigger issue.”
Copperfield is worth around $800 million, Fortune Magazine estimated last September. His Las Vegas show, which has run for the last 13 years, earns $50 million in ticket sales annually. He has produced and starred in several television specials, and appeared as himself in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” last year.
In 2009, the magician was sued by a woman who claimed that he sexually assaulted her on a private island after meeting her at a magic show in 2007. In 2010, the suit was dropped, and the woman was charged later with giving a false statement to police about another rape allegation.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.