'Plus 8' star claims producers violated child labor laws
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jon Gosselin has filed a counter lawsuit against the TLC network, claiming television producers violated Pennsylvania’s child labor laws in filming the hit reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8″ and are preventing him from working.The suit seeking more than $5 million in damages was filed Thursday in Maryland’s Montgomery County Circuit Court in response to a network lawsuit alleging Gosselin failed to meet his obligations as an employee. Gosselin’s attorney Mark Jay Heller said the network had the family sign a complicated deal in 2005 without the advice of a lawyer. “I do not believe we were paid a fair amount for the overreaching and overly restrictive contract – my family was initially paid $2,000 per episode for all ten members of my family and the use of my family home for filming,” Gosselin wrote in a court filing. He went on to say the family accepted the deal because they were “in desperate need of revenue to meet the needs of our eight children.” Heller said the network also failed to obtain child work permits that would spell out what hours the children would work and how they would be paid. An anonymous complaint to Pennsylvania authorities over a clip that showed TV producers refusing water to one of the children prompted an ongoing investigation, according to Gosselin’s court filing. “I believe that this case will be the historic case … that will stand for the principle that the courts will not tolerate corporations, no matter how profitable, to take advantage in the workplace of infants,” Heller said. TLC spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said the network won’t comment on legal matters. Gosselin went on to write that he is now unemployed and unable to secure non-entertainment related jobs because of overwhelming media interest in his daily activities. Gosselin has starred since 2007 on the weekly “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” a ratings hit for the network that has been rocked by marital turmoil as Gosselin and his wife, Kate, feuded, then filed for divorce. The couple are the parents of young twins and sextuplets whose family home is in Wernersville, Pa. TLC’s lawsuit filed last month is seeking from Gosselin unspecified compensatory damages, demanding he return income gained as a result of his alleged breaches of the agreement, and that he refrain from future violations. The network’s lawsuit alleges Gosselin “entered a lucrative arrangement to appear regularly on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and its companion show, ‘The Insider,’ to discuss his family and the problems he was having with Mrs. Gosselin, and he routinely sold photographic rights to various media outlets ….” Gosselin’s suit counters that he was explicitly authorized to make media appearances on news and talk shows under his contract with TLC. The network has said that, while both Kate and Jon Gosselin remain under exclusive contract with the network, the show’s future is undecided. The final episode is slated for Nov. 23, and TLC is working with Kate Gosselin on a new show.