Hairspray Lawsuit Has Been Barred

Categories: Theater

joel-vig.jpg
In 2007, Joel Vig--who played various roles in Hairspray--sued the show for $1.5 million, claiming they fired him after he had surgery on a knee he'd injured onstage.

Vig worked for months after the injury, but after his surgery, he found he'd been replaced and he was barred from entering the theater.

At the time, a Hairspray rep said, "Mr Vig's allegations were summarily rejected" in an arbitration brought by the union.

Well, now it's not just Vig who was barred. His lawsuit has been barred from being heard based on the statute of limitations.

Vig wrote to me:


"My lawyer has put in a request for the case to be heard by the New York Court Of Appeals based on the unusual but undeniable fact that I was covered not by one but by two union contracts and that the statute of limitations clearly is within the three-year statute of limitations rule for the musician's union contract. It was through the musician's union that I had an approved medical leave.

"I will send you the filings by both my lawyer and the opposition lawyer. The opposition lawyer has boldly lied in his filing claiming that 'It is undisputed that the Plaintiff took an unapproved leave and was terminated.' I have not only the request for leave but the letter approving my leave.

"What is undisputed is that I was injured on the job. What is undisputed is that I had a perfect work record and was praised by the producer for my work record and ethics. What is undisputed is that I had a perfectly normal recovery and when I should have gone back into the show I was denied that right.

"I have watched the horrors of the many terrible injuries in Spider-Man and The Little Mermaid leaving actors in hospitals and rehab centers...The pattern of terrible injuries that had happened before should have closed [Spider-Man] down until safety was assured for the poor actors and stunt people who were being put into those harnesses and flown crashing into the walls and the stage and ultimately falling headfirst into the cement orchestra pit.

"I do believe that the difference of the man who was welcomed back with open arms at Spider-Man and my being wrongfully terminated in Hairspray comes down to public awareness due to the press. Anything you can do to shed a light on this terrible injustice and to make the case for the NY Court Of Appeals to review this case would be much appreciated."

You can't stop the beat!


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11 comments
Lmckenna
Lmckenna

I hope that he gets the back pay that he deserves.  His reputation is pristine and he has done such good work for so many organizations, it seems that when you do the right thing, as he did, you end up getting screwed by those you trust to do the right thing by you.   I hope that the theater community rallies in its support of Joel and others who have been so mistreated.

Joel
Joel

It is disgraceful how these Unions are never on the side of the people they are supposed to represent. It is no wonder that they lost in Wisconsin. They align themselves on the side of the Producers and ignore their own self-interests. To the Unions the actors are just the daily nuisance  they need to tolerate, and if anyone challenges the status quo, they are immediately either ridiculed or blacklisted. Shame for not supporting a fellow actor!

Sneakerct
Sneakerct

Mr. Vig is one of my closest friends.  What has  happened and what is happening to Joel right now is an injustice (of the first order).  The Broadway community (whole theatrical) should stand up and support him in his fight  for justice and what is rightfully his.  He is not only doing this for himself but he is doing it for every actor who is now appearing on a stage or plans to become an actor in the future.  Just remember this can happen to you.

LaMisere
LaMisere

I'm so glad this is getting out. It has been years and some people would have given up. Keep being a soldier, Mr. Vig!!

JNYCP
JNYCP

 (It should be noted that as part of Joel Vig's role as the male Authority Figure in Hairspray, he also played the Glockenspiel during the song "I Can Hear the Bells", which is how the musicians' union comes to factor..)

Joelvig52
Joelvig52

Dear Michael, The injury was a tear in the meniscus of my left knee.  I was told by "Hairspray's" orthopedist that I could try to have physical therapy instead of surgery and for several months I did a physical therapy regime to strengthen the muscles around the knee.  During this time I continued to do all 8 shows a week and the understudy rehearsals as well.  Eventually the orthopedist for "Hairspray" told me that the injury needed to be remedied by arthroscopic surgery.  I went to stage management and was asked to postpone the surgery for 6 weeks to allow the company time to find and hire and train a temporary replacement.  I checked with the doctor and was given the okay to wait the six weeks and I set the surgery date for the day they specifically asked for.  Both the company manager and the stage manager gave me the okay for the medical leave. When the six weeks were up and I had only 7 weeks left in the contract I was told by the general manager that there was a rule in the Equity production contract that allowed management the option to terminate the Equity contract if the person requesting leave had less than 9 weeks left in the contract.  That is when I went to the Musician's Union.  The Musician's Union contract had no such 9 week rule provision and furthermore gave me the run of play protection that all musicians have guaranteed in the contract.  I followed the exact procedure to secure a leave to have the surgery for my on the job injury and should have been back in the show twelve weeks later.  Instead, I arrived at the theatre and was told by the theatre manager that the general manager had instructed him to deny me entry to the theatre and my job; 

Bob Beard4
Bob Beard4

Joel - it ain't over till the "fat lady sings"! Keep fighting!

Musto
Musto

I have asked Vig to add comments here to clarify, so hopefully he will answer and explain.

Savannah Montgomery
Savannah Montgomery

 ...and don't say he was going to the SAGE center....or I will use my gavel!

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