Can band members sue for wrongful termination?

Eddie Money is looking for two tickets to paradise in the form of an anti-SLAPP motion to get him out of what certainly appears to be a ridiculous suit.

His drummer, Glenn Symmonds, sued Eddie Money for wrongful termination when Money decided to use his son’s band for appearances. Symmonds claimed this “termination” was based on his age and because he has cancer. When those claims didn’t seem to be gaining much traction, Symmonds added his girlfriend to the mix, claiming that he suffered emotional distress from witnessing Money sexually harassing her, citing an incident where he held the mic between his legs like a penis.

Money has responded to the complaint with an anti-SLAPP motion, asserting that the manner in which he presents his music, and hence the make-up of his band, is a protected form of expression.

“The fact that Eddie did not invite Plaintiff to rejoin the band had nothing whatsoever to do with his age,” states the brief. “Nor did it have anything to do with any illness or disability that he suffered. It was based entirely on how inappropriately Plaintiff reacted upon hearing that Eddie wanted to tour with his adult children during the summer.”

I can’t opine on the likely outcome of the motion, because I don’t have knowledge of the evidence that both sides can bring to bear. But I would predict that the motion will satisfy the first prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis, since Money’s performance is a form of expression.

And I can opine that Symmonds needs to get a life. Apparently not only was Money not bothered by Symmonds’ cancer, he held fundraising concerts for him. No good deed goes unpunished.

[UPDATE — February 5, 2019] 

The case took a long and winding road, but ultimately the Court of Appeal concluded that while “we do not suggest that employment decisions as a general matter are acts in furtherance of the right to petition or free speech for anti-SLAPP purposes, here, as we have explained, Mahoney’s [Money’s legal name] decision to terminate Symmonds . . . did implicate Mahoney’s free speech rights.” On that basis, the court overruled an earlier denial of the anti-SLAPP motion and dismissed Symmonds’ action against Money.

[UPDATE — September 13, 2019]

Eddie Money died from complications of esophageal cancer at age 70. If there’s a rock and roll heaven, then I’m sure they have a hell of a band.

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Aaron Morris, Attorney
Aaron Morris
Morris & Stone, LLP

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