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Consumer Fraud

Lawsuit: Insomniac, Live Nation Illegally Recruit Volunteers to Work for Free

This Alert Affects:

Anyone who volunteered at an Insomniac Entertainment or Live Nation event.

Why Was a Lawsuit Filed?
The lawsuit alleges Insomniac Entertainment and Live Nation abused workers' rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act when they failed to pay volunteers the federal minimum wage for time spent working.
Type of Lawsuit
Class Action

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Insomniac Entertainment and Live Nation Worldwide, Inc. alleging that wages were illegally withheld from “volunteers” of the companies’ music festivals, concerts and other events. According to the suit, the companies recruited volunteers to carry out the work of paid employees at on-site general stores, merchandise tents, water stations and information booths, but failed to pay these "volunteers" for their time. The lawsuit claims this is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires that all time spent working must be compensated at a rate of no less than the federal minimum wage ($7.25), and seeks to recover wages owed to these volunteers.

Live Nation and Insomniac Music Festivals

  • Electric Daisy Carnival
  • Nocturnal Wonderland
  • Beyond Wonderland
  • Audiotistic Music Festival
  • Bassrush
  • Escape from Wonderland
  • Electric Forest
  • White Wonderland
  • Wet Wonderland
  • Great New York State Fair
  • Ozzfest
  • Jagermeister Music Tour
  • Music Midtown
  • The Peach Music Festival
  • Big Guava Music Festival
  • Funshine Music Festival
  • Jamboree in the Hills
  • Faster Horses
  • Sasquatch
  • Downtown Hoedown
  • Mixtape Festival
  • Paradiso Festival
  • Basscon Massive
  • Watershed Festival
  • Budweiser Made in America Festival
  • Pain in the Grass
  • Hardfest Summer Music Festival
  • Wanee Festival

Live Nation, Insomniac Abused Volunteers’ Rights, Suit Claims

The lawsuit alleges the two for-profit companies purposely misclassified workers as “volunteers” to avoid their obligations to pay wages to these individuals. The suit cites specific violations of the FLSA, a federal overtime and minimum wage law. These violations include:

  • Failing to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour
  • Failing to pay employees overtime
  • Failing to keep track of employees’ hours worked

The plaintiff, who worked at Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernardino, California, also alleges that the companies violated several state wage and hour laws by failing to provide volunteers with required rest and meal breaks during their shifts.

Which Laws Does the Suit Claim Were Violated?

Federal Law

Fair Labor Standards Act (1985)

  • Failure to keep accurate time records
  • Failure to pay minimum wage
  • Failure to pay overtime wages

California Law

California Labor Code

  • Failure to pay double time wages
  • Failure to provide 10-minute breaks for every four hours worked
  • Failure to provide 30-minute meal periods for every five hours worked
  • Failure to provide accurate, itemized wage statements
  • Failure to pay wages within 24 hours of discharge or 72 hours after resignation

California Business and Professions Code

  • Unfair and unlawful conduct
  • False advertising (characterizing the work as that of a “volunteer”)

Were Volunteers Misled into Working at the Festivals?

According to the suit, the companies took advantage of music lovers’ eagerness to attend the festivals by offering admission to the events in exchange for free labor. The lawsuit claims that the value of free admission to the events was “highly overstated and essentially worthless,” as the volunteers spent most of their time working for the defendants.

The lawsuit claims Insomniac recruited “Night Owl” volunteers with a flyer that said they would “receive meals, water, parking and time off to enjoy the festival.” According to the plaintiff, however, these volunteers often work between 12- and 14-hour shifts and are not given any time to enjoy the show.

Additionally, the recruitment flyers state that “Night Owls also learn about the inner workings of festival production”; however, the plaintiff claims that she did not receive any type of “valuable internship-quality training,” but instead performed general customer service and shop-keeping duties.

Furthermore, the suit claims the companies required a “refundable volunteer deposit,” which would be held if a volunteer did not complete his or her “duties” or behaved inappropriately. Therefore, in some cases, volunteers – who received no compensation for their labor – were forced to pay Live Nation and Insomniac to work at the music festivals, according to the suit.

Am I Covered by the Lawsuit?

The lawsuit seeks to cover all those who worked as unpaid volunteers for any Insomniac or Live Nation event, show or other promotional gathering in the United States during the last four years. According to the lawsuit, thousands of volunteers may be eligible to collect compensation for the hours they worked as unpaid volunteers at Insomniac and/or Live Nation events. 

Apr 23, 2014
Labor & Employment

Insomniac Lawsuit: What's the Problem with Recruiting Unpaid Volunteers?

Last month, Live Nation and Insomniac were hit with a putative class action lawsuit alleging the companies broke federal and California labor laws when recruiting unpaid volunteers… More

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Case Resources

Valladares v. Insomniac Inc. Complaint
Case number CIVDS1402710, Superior Court for the State of California
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Federal law that mandates minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and other employment standards for private corporations and federal, state and local governments.