Tracee Ellis Ross is being sued by a former assistant, claiming she was “denied meal and rest breaks” and is owed money in damages.
According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, a woman named Samantha Wilkins is suing the ‘Black-ish’ actress for declaratory relief and damages, claiming she was “denied meal and rest breaks” while working for the star. The ex-assistant claims she worked for the actress from December 2019 to November 2020 and regularly worked (or was on call) for more than 8 hours a day and/or 40 hours a week.
During that time, Wilkins claims the actress — and her company — “failed to pay her any meal or rest break penalties.” She is now seeking damages for “Labor Code Violations” in excess of $25,000. At the time, the ex-assistant claims she was making up to $100,000 a year, but shouldn’t have been classified as an “exempt employee.” The lawsuit alleges, “Specifically, they illegally paid Wilkins a salary, without regard to the number of hours that she worked, the number of hours that she was on call, the overtime and double-time hours that she works, or the meal and rest periods that she missed.”
The ex-assistant claims she worked seven consecutive days a week, and often more than 12 hours in a shift.
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It’s unclear if the assistant was fired, or quit, and details behind the issues with her employment. We are guessing it ended poorly. But, Wilkins claims she is “informed and believes that defendants concede that they owe plaintiff at least some wages. Nevertheless, they have failed and refused to even pay the undisputed amount owed.” She continued, “Defendants knowingly and intentionally failed to furnish Wilkins with wage statements that accurately reflected all of the information required by Labor Code 226.”
“The acts and conduct of each and every defendant were intentional, harassing, and/or not a formal part of Wilkins’s employment and were not the result of a legitimate business necessity,” she added.
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In the end, the ex-assistant claims the actress and her company “failed to accurately maintain” her employment records and “knowingly and intentionally failed to furnish Wilkins with wage statements that accurately reflected all of the information.”
Earlier this week, Tracee Ellis Ross made headlines after promoting the premiere of the farewell season of ‘Black-ish.’ “How it started, how it’s ending! Start your new year off with @blackishabc’s farewell season premiere on Jan 4, and watch seasons 1-7 on @hulu,” she wrote on IG. The actress included a promotional photo, and fans let her know they didn’t want the show to end.
Recently, ‘Black-ish’s producers announced the eighth season of the popular sitcom would be its last. Kenya Barris issued a statement that read: “To all the people in the world I love, honor, respect, and care for it are both exciting and bittersweet to share that black-ish been renewed by ABC for its eighth… and final season. Adding, “In this day and age it is rare to get to decide when your show should come to an end, and we are grateful along with ABC to be able to make this final season exactly what we’d hoped for – and to do it with the entire and amazingly stellar cast coming back to close this chapter out with us the right way!”
The lawsuit is ongoing.