The parking assistants were among dozens who sued various New York production companies in 2015. The workers — who are generally low-paid and non-white — are essential to New York’s film and TV industry, using their personal vehicles to reserve parking spaces for productions.
HBO and Warner Bros. settled with a class of parking assistants for $8 million in 2017. Now, a group of 42 parking assistants who were part of that settlement are alleging that they faced retaliation for participating in the first suit.
“They were vocal and they didn’t get any more work,” said attorney James Vagnini, who sued the companies. “These people are making millions of dollars and they’re going so far as to ice out workers that were just trying to stand up for their basic civil rights. HBO just supported and backed a long, long period of identifying and isolating and shutting out people.”
The workers typically make $125-$150 per shift, which could last a full production day, Vagnini said. Since the filing of the original suit, he said conditions had improved and now workers are making at least minimum wage.
The new suit lists identified numerous plaintiffs who claim they lost work for refusing to back out of the original lawsuit. The suit states that Maurice Cabrera, a parking coordinator, asked the plaintiffs to sign a Working Agreement as a condition of further employment, under which the plaintiffs would drop the suit.
Cabrera allegedly told one of the plaintiffs, Neftali Pellot, “I can’t give you no more work,” and asked “What do you think you’re going to get” from the lawsuit. Another supervisor, Lloyd Bent, is quoted as telling another plaintiff, “Why the f— did you start the lawsuit?”
The original suit cited “Girls” as a prime example, but several other lawsuits were filed against other New York productions. Vagnini said it is possible that other producers could face additional retaliation suits.
HBO issued a brief statement in response: “We believe the case is without merit.”