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SAG-AFTRA files Amicus case in Fox poaching case against Netflix – Deadline

SAG-AFTRA filed a friend of the court brief in the poaching battle between Netflix and Disney-owned Fox. The union does not take sides, but says that “the case raises important questions about the right of workers to seek employment and the strong protections in California law against employers who exclude their workers from the marketplace, especially when they are not paid for it. time.”

The dispute began in 2016 when Fox filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Netflix illegally poached two of its executives and encouraged them to quit their employment contracts. Netflix filed a counter action, claiming that Fox had in fact engaged in illegal and anti-competitive business practices. Netflix lost the lawsuit, but appealed.

Netflix Brings Disney-Owned Fox to Court on Appeal in Executor Poaching Case

The union urges the court of appeal to ensure that its decision does not infringe the rights of its members. The part of the case that concerns SAG-AFTRA most – especially because it could impact television series regulars – concerns whether fixed-term employment contracts and option agreements that give employers a unilateral right to extend the duration of these contracts may restrict an employee’s ability to seek alternative employment.

“The Lower Court was faced with the assessment of restrictive covenants in the contracts of experienced, highly paid, high-ranking executives with bargaining power commensurate with their roles,” SAG-AFTRA said in its brief. ‘amicus. “However, the consequences of this Court’s interpretation will not be so narrow. The actors represented by the Plaintiff and countless other grassroots and freelance workers who lack bargaining power will be affected by the outcome of this case.

See the union’s amicus brief here.

SAG-AFTRA says that while California’s legal protections for employees are strong, it is concerned that a misinterpreted ruling could undermine crucial legal protections for employees, especially actors and others who are not executives. full-time high-level employees.

SAG-AFTRA

“The television landscape has changed dramatically with the growth of streaming platforms and many other shows in production,” said Gabrielle Carteris, President of SAG-AFTRA. “In the past, TV actors were guaranteed to work hard enough every season to earn a decent living. Now, with only eight or ten episodes per season, the actors work less and receive less pay. These unfair exclusivity restrictions in their contracts prevent actors from taking on other work, making it nearly impossible to pursue a career.

David White, the union’s national executive director, said: “These onerous contract terms that prevent artists from being able to work – in some cases for up to two years – are outrageous and must change. This amicus brief is an important step in our fight to create a fairer working environment for our members and other players in this industry.

Series regulars contracts usually include exclusivity provisions and give producers the option – but not the obligation – to unilaterally extend them from one season to the next. These provisions prevent actors from taking on other work, with a few exceptions, when under contract and between seasons. The union said it believed “such restrictions, especially in today’s entertainment landscape, are at odds with California law” and that it “does not want the lower court ruling in the Fox case / Netflix is ​​inappropriately applied ”to its members.

SAG-AFTRA is also concerned “that the court ruling could have an even greater negative impact on women and people of color, who initially have fewer opportunities in the industry. Union members fought overly restrictive studio contracts in the union’s early years, and SAG-AFTRA is ready to continue the fight. The union will be monitoring this and other cases that affect members closely.

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