Lawsuit Asks: Is licensing for talent agents unconstitutional?
The National Conference of Personal Managers is suing the State of California, Governor Edmund G. Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris. The suit concerns the State's Talent Agencies Act, which requires that those engaged in “procurement of employment” on behalf of clients must be licensed as talent agents. Although he suit was dismissed by the District Court in March of this year, the Managers have now filed their appeal in the 9th Circuit, alleging the District Judge's ruling was in error and an abuse of discretion.
Appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
The appeal asks the Court to rule that the Talent Agencies Act is unconstitutional because it violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, interferes with interstate commerce, restrains first amendment speech rights of managers, and inhibits managers' constitutionally protected right to contract. Managers also claim the law results in involuntary servitude, since one of the remedies afforded clients of unlicensed managers who procure employment is disgorgement of fees.
The Managers also complain that the California Labor Commission, which enforces the licensing law has interpreted the law arbitrarily and unpredictably, recently even arriving at different results in cases with almost identical facts. In Gittleman v. Karolat, the Commissioner concluded that arranging a guest appearance on a TV talk show did NOT require an agent's license, while that same year, the Blasi v. Marathon Entertainment case came to the opposite conclusion.
The Managers are represented in the appeal by a dream team of constitutional scholars, led by Stephen Rohde, Ryan Fowler, Christopher Good and Bill Ferguson.
A Game Changer???
We can expect a ruling in the case some time next year. If the managers prevail, the case could be a major game-changer for the talent representation business in California, and in other jurisdictions that require licensing.