Federal Court Rejects Managers’ Bid to Overturn Talent Agency Law

Judge upholds California law which prohibits managers' from procuring work for their clients just as licensed talent agents can

Talent managers have lost their bid to overturn a California law that prohibits them from trying to find work for the clients or acts they represent.

Under the law, only licensed talent agents  – not managers, who are not licensed – can legally seek work for their clients

Judge Dean Pregerson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday threw out a suit filed by the National Conference of Personal Managers that would have struck down the state's Talent Agencies Act. The suit claimed that the law was “unconstitutionally vague.”

Also read: Manager Asks State Supreme Court to Block Stop Enforcement of Talent Agencies Act

In his ruling however, Pregerson said that courts already have sufficiently established what “procuring” means, noting that it is contained in “numerous California statutes” that have not been challenged.

The Talent Agencies Act, which dates back to 1978, has been a problem for some managers who have sought promised payments or commissions from their clients. When clients have disputed their claims, some managers have been reported to the California Labor Commissioner for wrongfully procuring work for a client without a license.

The personal managers also said the law violated the U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment, claiming that it was a form of "involuntary servitude" to work and then be denied a commission.

"Not being compensated for work performed does not inevitably make that work involuntary servitude," Pregerson said. "Plaintiff's members have choices. They have the choice to refrain from procuring employment for their clients, to procure employment without a license and risk the voiding of parts of their contracts, or to obtain a license."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.