H.E.R. has filed a lawsuit against MBK Entertainment, the record label owned by her longtime manager Jeff Robinson.
Variety reports that the Grammy award-winning singer, whose real name is Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, has sued for the rights to her music catalog. She signed with Jeff in 2011 at the age of 14.
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According to legal docs obtained by The Blast, H.E.R. has sued for declaratory relief and violation of the business and professions code and seeking to be let go from her contract with MBK. The lawsuit was filed on Thursday (June 16) in the Superior Court of the State of California in Los Angeles County.
All of H.E.R.‘s released have been released under the MBK logo and were distributed by Sony Music’s RCA Records. It’s not certain whether or not her dispute extends to her contract with Jeff.
The documents reportedly note that the contract makes H.E.R. an “exclusive employee” for an “initial period” which “ended the later of 15 months after May 19, 2011, or 12 months after the commercial release in the United States of Wilson’s first album under the contract, and up to five additional Option Periods of more than one year each.”
They also suggest that H.E.R. believed the contract would have made her an exclusive employee of MBK “past the current date [May 19, 2011] and potentially until much longer, as each Option Period is keyed to a commercial release by MBK of a record album.” In addition, she claims that Jeff fired the law firm that initially represented her and alleges that “Robinson caused his own lawyers to represent Wilson in the negotiation of subsequent contracts, including publishing and touring agreements.”
She also claimed that “those lawyers took 5% of the deals they negotiated, but did not have a written fee agreement or a conflict waiver signed by Wilson, and said that they performed the services ‘as a favor’ to their client Robinson who was paid 20% commission for each of those deals.”
The label has “significantly limited” her “employment rights,” per the filing, and she has reportedly “not been free to provide her recording services except as permitted or dictated by MBK.” She also alleges that MBK “has exclusively owned the right to exploit her name and likeness for her recordings.” H.E.R. has also stated that she has “not been free to provide her recording services except as permitted or dictated by MBK.”
She notes that while the majority of her records have been made in California, where the lawsuit was filed, she “is informed and believed” that MBK is a corporation based out of New York. She adds that her contract forces her to work “beyond seven years after May 19, 2011” and further states that it violates California Labor Code 2855, which “prohibits the enforcement beyond seven years of a contract (such as the Agreement) to render services of a special, unique, extraordinary or intellectual character.”
“Wilson’s seven years have run,” the documents reportedly state. “MBK’s attempts to thwart this important and fundamental California public policy should not be condoned.”
H.E.R. is seeking a “judicial declaration that the Agreement is voidable and may not be enforced against Plaintiff under California law to the extent it purports to require Plaintiff’s services after May 18, 2019.”
She has also requested that the judge rule that the agreement violates the California Labor Code’s Seven-Year rule and is asking for “restitution and disgorgement of funds according to proof; for costs of suit incurred herein; and for such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”
H.E.R. performed at the Grammys earlier this year and you can see the performance here.