Comic Book Creator Stan Lee Is Sued By Former Assistant For Violating California Labor Laws

Jennifer Melendez and Edgar M. Rivera, Esq.

On August 22, 2015, Shawn Lukaszewics filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court against legendary comic book creator and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, his wife Joan Lee, and his adult daughter Joan Celia Lee.  Mr. Lukaszewics, the Lee family’s former executive assistant, alleges violations of California labor law, including unpaid overtime, failure to provide breaks, and failure to pay wages on time, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In October 2014, Joan Celia Lee hired Mr. Lukaszewics to set up a convention booth for Stan Lee at the Los Angeles ComiKaze convention. Her father, Stan Lee was disappointed with Mr. Lukaszewics’ final result, telling him, “This is fucking embarassing…you did a shitty job…this is fucking unbelievable.” Notwithstanding his expressed disappointment, Mr. Lee hired Mr. Lukaszewics as a full-time executive assistant at a rate of $40 per hour.

Once hired, Mr. Lukaszewics’ job duties consisted of building, launching, and managing various websites, as well as overseeing all social media and marketing on behalf of Joan Celia Lee. Mr. Lukaszewics also ran personal errands for the Lee family, requiring him to be available at all times.  According to the complaint, the Lee family failed to compensate him for his overtime hours.  When Mr. Lukaszewics raised this issue with the Lee family, they allegedly refused to pay him in accordance with the law, stating, “You are already getting paid too much. Don’t complain. You should be an intern. You are lucky to be working for the Lee family in the first place.”

Mr. Lukaszewics’ complaint alleges numerous instances of verbal abuse. For example, in November 2014, Joan Celia Lee instructed Mr. Lukaszewics to deliver mail to the Lee residence. When he arrived and rang the door bell, Mr. Lee rudely yelled over the intercom, “Get the fuck out and never ring my damn doorbell again.”  In another incident, after Joan Lee instructed Mr. Lukaszewics to post a picture to her instagram profile for her, she screamed at Mr. Lukaszewics in front of other employees, saying to him, “You are fucking stupid. You fucked up. If you fuck up again you’re fired.”  After Mr. Lukaszewics explained to Joan Celia Lee that he did exactly as instructed, she responded, “You don’t get an explanation. You are fucking wrong.  Do not challenge me, I am JC Lee.”

In December 2014, the Lee family reduced Mr. Lukaszewics’ pay rate from $40 per hour to $25 per hour.  Mr. Lukaszewics alleges that during this time he constantly had to remind and beg the Lee family to be paid on time, and that he never received the work-breaks to which he was entitled under California law.  In June 2015, Mr. Lukaszewics began to seek medical help and was diagnosed with psychiatric injuries.  On June 3, 2015, Mr. Lee terminated Mr. Lukaszewics after he continued his attempt to collect his wages from the Lee family.  Mr. Lukaszewics alleges that the Lee Family’s abusive treatment caused him to suffer emotional and physical distress, which ultimately led to depression, anxiety, headaches, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbance.

If your employer does not pay you overtime, give you meal or rest breaks, or verbally or phyiscally abuses you, contact The Harman Firm, LLP.