Grammy-winning R&B singer H.E.R is suing her record label MBK Entertainment, claiming that her current contract breaks labor code statutes in California.
In her suit, obtained by The Blast, filed in Los Angeles on Thursday (June 16), H.E.R., birth name Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, claimed that MBK, the record label of her manager Jeff Robinson, violated California’s business and professions code with her contract, which she signed at age 14—she is now 24.
As reported by the outlet, the suit alleges that the singer didn’t have proper independent legal representation following her signing with the label back in 2011. Other points of contention include her manager bringing in his own legal team without signing a conflict of interest and taking 5 percent of the singer’s deals without H.E.R agreeing to that fee.
Given California’s labor code’s seven-year statute, the current deal should have been voided and reviewed as of May 18, 2019. “Wilson’s seven years have run,” the suit said. “MBK’s attempts to thwart this important and fundamental California public policy should not be condoned.”
“[The contract] has significantly limited Wilson’s employment rights,” the suit continued. “Since May 19, 2011, MBK has exclusively owned her services as a recording artist and has exclusively owned the right to exploit her name and likeness for her recordings under the Agreement. Wilson has not been free to provide her recording services except as permitted or dictated by MBK.”
To date, H.E.R has released just one full-length album, Back of My Mind (2021), as well as two compilation albums made up of material from prior EPs. The complaint does not state how MBK defined an album release. H.E.R is asking for the court to officially acknowledge that her contract violates the labor code and that it cannot be enforced.
That seven-year statute is a hot-button item in the music industry right now. While most workers in California are protected from personal service agreements lasting more than seven years, there’s an exception to that rule specifically for musicians. The previously introduced FAIR Act seeks to end that exclusion and faces a vote this week.
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