Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, better known as H.E.R., is suing her record company, MBK Entertainment, for the rights to her music catalog.
The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in Los Angeles County on Thursday, June 16. The Blast exclusively got the court documents. H.E.R. is suing for declaratory relief and violation of the business and professions code.
Grammy-Winning Artist H.E.R. Sues Record Company Over A Contract She Signed When She Was 14!
The 24-year-old California native has achieved a lot of success at such a young age. She’s already made a name for herself in the R&B industry, sweeping up both Grammy and Academy Awards.
Ten years ago, when she was only 14 years old, Wilson signed a recording agreement with MBK in 2011. At the time, she signed the agreement in California. In the court documents, she says that she resides in the state of California, has a California driver’s license, and even voted in the most recent national election in her home state.
The recording contract that she signed made 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.”
As H.E.R. understood it, the contract meant that she was an exclusive employee of MBK for May 19, 2011 “past the current date and potentially until much longer, as each Option Period is keyed to a commercial release by MBK of a record album.”
At the time she entered into the agreement, H.E.R. explains that Jeff Robinson, the owner of MBK, became her manager. In the negotiation, H.E.R. claims that Robinson had actually fired the law firm that first represented her.
In the court documents, she alleges that “Robinson caused his own lawyers to represent Wilson in the negotiation of subsequent contracts, including publishing and touring agreements.” She then alleges 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.”
H.E.R. Claims That MBK Has ‘Significantly Limited’ Her Employment Rights
H.E.R. alleges that MBK has “significantly limited” her “employment rights.” H.E.R. claims that she “has 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.”
In the lawsuit, H.E.R. notes that a majority of the albums that she’s produced since 2011 have been recorded in California, although she “is informed and believed” that MBK is a corporation based out of New York.
H.E.R. claims that her contract forces her to work “beyond seven years after May 19, 2011” and notes that this is in violation of 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.”
The lawsuit states, “Wilson’s seven years have run. 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.”
Basically, H.E.R. is suing her recording company, MBK, because she says that their contract should have been up on May 18, 2019, considering she signed it in 2011, and, given that she’s a resident of the state of California, and California has a seven-year contract maximum, she should be free from her previous contract with MBK and create her own music as she wishes.
She is asking a judge to provide a judgment that their previous agreement violates the Seven-Year rule under California Labor Code 2855. She’s also asking for a judgment that their agreement is “unenforceable.” She’s also 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.”