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J-Lo's extortion suit against former employee dismissed

Celebrities and high-ranking corporate officials are often the subject of wrongful termination suits. Some entertainment and business big-wigs are less likely to consider their employees' rights, ignoring wage laws and other workplace protection guidelines.

Another case has surfaced against a major music star; singer Jennifer Lopez has come under fire for failing to pay her employee. Lopez had recently filed a $20 million countersuit against the worker for extortion, but a judge dismissed that claim in late December.

Media reports show that the singer is accused of failing to pay her employee an agreed-upon salary. The man had been hired as Lopez's driver at an annual rate of $72,000. The man also claims that he was owed more than $200,000 in overtime production pay, which involved additional driving for Lopez's professional duties as an actor and performer.

The man has filed a suit against not only the singer, but also against her manager and production company. That complaint was filed in April 2012, according to courtroom documents. He claims that Lopez's manager publicly humiliated him during a job in Georgia and then fired him in September 2011 without paying him the promised rates.

It appears that the man signed an employment contract when he was hired. That document will allow him additional traction in court as he attempts to prove that he was underpaid by the singer. Lopez may be required to pay the man the promised wages that he is owed, as well as the additional overtime. She may also be ordered to pay punitive damages in connection with the case. Those could include financial compensation for the driver's emotional distress, for example.

Experts say the case is scheduled to proceed to trial in May. The singer could choose to settle the case before it is sent to the courtroom, however, which could prevent a heated legal battle.

Source: TV Guide, "Jennifer Lopez's $20 million extortion lawsuit dismissed," Kate Stanhope, Dec. 27, 2012.

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