Shahs of Sunset Fans, Rejoice!

by Melissa Tsynman

While a majority of the country is currently freaking out over Ebola, ISIS, and Border Patrol, reality fans of the popular Bravo program, Shahs of Sunset, are impatiently waiting for the reality show to premiere after a successful three seasons. If you are one of these fans, you may be wondering whatever happened to the fourth season premiere, scheduled for October 13.[1] Yet, what fans do not know, is that the show has recently had more drama off camera than even its most jaw-dropping reunion episodes. After a recent scandal by the network, fans may be disappointed to hear that they will have to wait a little longer to see their favorite “Bravo-lebrities.”

In an attempt to appropriate “a union contract, health benefits, and representation by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (“IATSE”) Editors Guild Local 700,” fourteen of the production and postproduction workers were fired after they walked off in a strike, in hopes to be heard.[2] If you are thinking to yourself, “That doesn’t sound legal!”- you are right. The harsh decision by the show’s production company, Ryan Seacrest Productions (“RSP”), is considered a major no-no in federal law. In fact, Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) specifically includes strikes “among the concerted activities protected for employees by this action.”[3] Further, Section 13 also concerns the right to strike.[4] Legally, the act of firing the striking employees is formally known as retaliation, which is federally banned under the False Claims Act.[5]

However, in a sneaky attempt to create a loophole, Bravo tried pulling a fast one by nixing RSP and taking over the show itself.[6] In other words, by switching the production company to the network itself, Bravo tried to argue that the fourteen former employees of RSP were never employees of the “new” production company, who was therefore not responsible for hiring them.[7]

Not so fast, Bravo. The IATSE “filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board” (“NLRB”) against both Bravo and RSP for “unfair labor practices, including retaliation.”[8] Of course, the IATSE was motivated by a little more than the show’s premiere. Allowing the production companies to bypass the law in this manner could potentially set a dangerous precedent among future companies. IATSE made an example of Bravo and RSP when they stated that, “It is an egregious violation of the law for any employer to discharge or otherwise retaliate against employees for exercising their right to organize. The Editors Guild and IATSE will aggressively defend the rights of our membership against all such violations.”[9] No standing ovation for you, Bravo.

Fortunately for fans, the show must go on. On October 10, less than two weeks after the complaint was filed, the Motion Picture Editors Guild released that “The crew of Shahs of Sunset voted unanimously to ratify a union agreement, ending the month-long strike.”[10] Though the first episode of the season has yet to debut, fans can rest assured knowing that the team behind the successful show is back in action, and in full compliance with labor regulations.

[1] Dominic Pattern, Bravo Advertisers Targeted in ‘Shahs of Sunset’ Strike, Deadline (Sept. 19, 2014, 4:13 PM), http://deadline.com/2014/09/bravo-advertisers-shahs-of-sunset-strike-editors-sponsors-836878/.

[2] David Robb, IATSE Rallies Against Bravo’s At NBC Universal HQ, Deadline (Oct. 7, 2014, 1:40 PM), http://deadline.com/2014/10/iatse-rallies-against-bravos-shahs-of-sunset-847538/.

[3] The Right to Strike, National Labor Relations Board, http://www.nlrb.gov/strikes (last visited Oct. 27, 2014).

[4] Id.

[5] 31 U.S.C. § 3730 (2012).

[6] Robb, supra note 2.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Dominic Pattern, UPDATE: Union Blasts Bravo Over Cutting Striking ‘Shahs Of Sunset’ Editors, Deadline (Sept. 26, 2014, 3:04 PM), http://deadline.com/2014/09/bravo-takes-over-shahs-of-sunset-from-ryan-seacrest-striking-editors-likely-to-be-replaced-841939/.

[10] Dominic Pattern, ‘Shahs of Sunset’ Strike Over: Deal Ratified With Ryan Seacrest Productions, Deadline (Oct. 10, 2014, 7:37 PM), http://deadline.com/2014/10/shahs-of-sunset-strike-bravo-union-agreement-ryan-seacrest-849670/.

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One thought on “Shahs of Sunset Fans, Rejoice!

  1. Osvaldo Molina says:

    Excelent article .
    Labour rights are a passionate subject. Congratulations Melissa

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