Seven Broadway casting offices have until Jan. 22 to respond to allegations of violating antitrust laws as the lawsuit filed against them by The Broadway League proceeds.
The allegation comes as the League claims that seven casting offices have banded together to raise their fees and have refused to work with producers who do not pay them. The League has said that this boycott is hurting Broadway producers, but a lawyer for the casting directors, who have been seeking union recognition from the League, contends that there is no boycott.
In the original complaint, filed Dec. 5, the League alleged that seven casting offices have violated antitrust laws by collectively adding a 29% fee increase to go toward pension and healthcare funds and boycotting producers who would not pay them. In letters filed with the court in December, Colin Kass, a lawyer at Proskauer Rose LLP. representing the League, reiterated the statement from the complaint that this move was harming producers.
“In the weeks since the boycott began, many shows have been put in jeopardy as a result of the casting cartel’s illegal refusal to deal,” the statement reads.
In turn, Michael Dell’Angelo, an attorney at Berger & Montague P.C. who is working with Daniel Walker to represent the defendants, contests the fact that there is a boycott.
“We plan to respond in court, but, in short, we don’t believe that the allegations regarding the boycott are accurate, and that there isn’t a boycott,” Dell’Angelo said in an interview with Broadway News.
After the suit was filed, Tom O’Donnell, president of Teamsters Local 817, the union casting directors have aligned with, had said in a statement that the casting offices were “not attempting to ‘fix prices’” and wanted workplace fairness.
The suit stems from the fact that casting offices say that they are employees of the show and entitled to benefits and collective bargaining negotiated by their union, while the League says they are independent contractors and thus will not recognize their union.
Kass directed inquiries to The Broadway League, which had no further comment.
In the suit, the League is seeking injunctive relief, meaning a court order that would essentially prohibit the casting agencies from banding together and raising fees. While the case is pending, the League has been asking the casting offices to sign an interim personal services agreement that includes increased fees, but reserves the right to seek damages later on.
The case, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, is currently set for a pretrial conference on Jan. 31.
The casting offices had asked for more time to respond to the suit and were granted the extension until late January.
That extension also applies to Teamsters Local 817 and the Casting Society of America, who are both named in the suit. All defendants are represented by Walker.