LOS ANGELES—Four adult performers have filed a formal complaint with the Department of Industrial Relations for the State of California against LA Direct Models and its owner Derek Hay, claiming he and his agency violated several laws that govern talent agents.
The performers, identified in the petition as “Jane Does,” allege that Hay “exploited his position of power to abuse his clients both emotionally, financially and sexually.”
Veteran adult industry attorney Allan Gelbard is representing the four Jane Does in the complaint that will go before the State Labor Commissioner’s Board, which oversees, among other things, licensed talent agents.
The Jane Does are seeking to have LA Direct’s agency license revoked, to recover monetary damages and to receive declaratory relief. They are seeking to be let out of their contracts and to recover fees that they allege Hay withheld from them, or that they were forced to pay him but shouldn't have had to.
Hay told AVN he was not familiar with the complaint because he had not been served with one.
"I have no comment for a Labor Commission complaint that I haven't seen or have not been served," Hay said Wednesday night.
One of the Jane Does, performer Charlotte Cross, gave her consent to be identified for this story.
“Adult performers deserve the same respect as any other worker in the state of California,” Cross said in a statement. “When a predatory agency takes advantage of adult performers, they need to be held accountable. I’m saddened it has taken this case over 15 years to reach the Labor Board but I’m incredibly proud of the performers that have decided to speak up, knowing the retaliation they will face. I hope that this will set a precedent for the future and show our industry that with enough tenacity, you can change things for the better. This is our #MeToo movement.”
The language of the complaint says that Hay “promises potential adult performers fame and fortune.”
“Once they enter into exclusive multi-year agency agreements, he fails to account for all fees earned as related to their employment, and uses his power to coerce them into improper business arrangements, and improper, unwanted and in some cases unlawful sexual relations with himself and others,” the complaint says. “Unless they comply with his wishes, he intentionally destroys their careers by refusing to book them for work, even when specifically requested.”
The complaint continues, “Hay unlawfully employs multi-page contracts, only a single page of which he submits for approval by the Labor Commission, to ‘lock-up’ performers for many years. These contracts provide for additional and unconscionable fees and penalties which he then coerces performers to either pay in cash, or ‘work-off’ by performing sexual acts on him.
“Hay willfully breaches his fiduciary duty to his clients by requiring producers to pay amounts in excess of his clients’ agreed upon fees for the opportunity to hire his clients in the first place; and then fails to pay his clients their contractually obligated share of these fees which are directly related to their employment.
“Most egregiously, he coerces some of his performers into ‘escorting’ and then, should they seek to terminate their (illegal) contracts, threatens to ‘out’ them for performing illegal sex-work.”
The complaint alleges that Hay has violated “not less than five sections of the California Talent Agencies Act, as well as numerous other state and federal statutes.”
According to the filing, the reason the performers are remaining anonymous is because they “each fear a substantial risk of retaliatory physical and/or mental harm; and anonymity is necessary to preserve each Petitioner’s privacy in highly sensitive and personal matters; and, each Petitioner reasonably fears that their professional careers will be damaged by coming forward against a powerful and entrenched industry insider; and each Petitioner may be compelled to admit potentially illegal conduct, thereby risking criminal prosecution.”
Gelbard told AVN, "I’ve represented people in all aspects of the adult entertainment space for more than 20 years. I feel that this may be my most important case to date. As you know, it is not my practice to try my cases in the media, so the allegations in the petition will have to speak for themselves, for now. My clients and I look forward to presenting a compelling case, supported by sworn testimony and other evidence, to the state labor commission.
"I believe that, in addition to my four clients, there have been numerous other performers who have contacted the labor commission alleging similar conduct. Obviously, I would like to speak to them as possible corroborating witnesses. If there are others who have experienced or witnessed the type of conduct we have alleged in our complaint, I urge them to contact my office or the state labor commission.
"I also want to say how proud I am of the four women who have come forward. Each has alleged conduct that is unacceptable in any evolved society. Each has done so with the hope that they can prevent this from happening to others, now or in the future. It is an honor to represent them."
Click here for the full complaint.
According to knowledgeable sources, the Labor Board is likely to hold its first hearing on this complaint before the end of the year.