Security guards sue Johnny Depp for unpaid wages, dangerous conditions
Johnny Depp's bodyguards were "forced to protect [him] from himself," with duties including dusting drugs off his face in public, a bombshell new lawsuit against the star alleges. Two of Depp's former bodyguards are suing the "Pirates of the Caribbean" actor for unpaid wages and overtime, Page Six has learned. The suit filed in California Superior Court marks just the latest legal woes for Depp, who's separately in the midst of a bitter £25 million fraud lawsuit with his former managers, who have alleged extravagant spending by the star.
In the new civil suit, Eugene Arreola, a onetime LAPD detective, and Miguel Sanchez also allege they were used as de facto chauffeurs and nannies for Depp's family and were exposed to "illegal substances" by guarding the hard-partying actor. They claim that working for Depp put them in "toxic" situations, including once when, "An incident at a local nightclub involved Plaintiffs alerting Depp of illegal substances visible on his face and person while preventing onlookers from noticing Depp's condition," the court papers allege. The lawsuit does not elaborate on what the "substances" were.
Depp's ex-wife Amber Heard had declared in legal documents after their breakup, "Johnny has a long-held and widely acknowledged public and private history of drug and alcohol abuse." According to reports, Heard alleged his violent behavior was fueled by drug and booze benders. Arreola and Sanchez allege that they protected Depp for years for a firm called Premier Group International -- but that in 2016, they were hired as part of Depp's in-house security team.
But, "In early 2016 Plaintiffs began to notice a stark change in Depp and the atmosphere on his Hollywood Hills compound. Depp began making sudden and drastic changes to his staff and management team, causing a significant financial crunch for everyone surrounding Depp, except for Depp himself." They accepted the "in-house" jobs because "Plaintiffs were loyal to Depp and his family and understanding of the financial hurricane Depp was in." Depp's former security guards allege that once they began working for Depp directly, they noticed their paychecks were missing "overtime and rest pay," and that from 2016 to 2018, neither received overtime or were given "meal and rest breaks as mandated by law" and were "misclassified as independent contractors when they were clearly hired as employees."
According to the court documents: "Plaintiffs found themselves in situations that required more than what a bodyguard would be expected to do," including being "constantly used as drivers, driving back and forth at Depp's or his family's beckoning." The guards also allege that they "were asked repeatedly to drive vehicles that contained illegal substances" and "open containers" and "were asked to monitor unstable individuals in [Depp's] life and entourage," risking their own reputations. Court documents claim that one guard became a de facto baby-sitter when "Sanchez, whose primary detail was the protection of Depp's children, was more often than not the primary caretaker for Depp's minor child," and, "Worse yet, Sanchez was told to give into every whim of Depp's children and worried he would lose his job if he did not comply with their demands." The suit also claims that the two guards were "exposed to unsafe conditions and situations," including an incident when Depp's head of security accidentally shot himself in the leg "while playing with his weapon in a small control room on Johnny Depp's property."
The guards add: "As a result of the toxic and dangerous work environment and the constant labor code violations of their employers, Plaintiffs were forced to leave their employment despite the fact that they enjoyed many of the people they worked with and have no ill will toward Johnny Depp." Arreola and Sanchez are seeking unpaid overtime, wages, meal and rest break compensation and penalties as well as attorney fees plus damages. They're being repped by Glendale, Calif., lawyer Tamar G.
Arminak, whose clients have included Amanda Bynes' family. Separately, Depp's been mired in a multi-complaint battle with his former managers at the Management Group that's been raging for more than a year. That matter has an August trial date.
He's also suing his onetime lawyers at Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman LLP stemming from its dealings related to the Management Group. The firm has also countersued, while the Management Group has alleged, "Depp listened to no one, including TMG and his other advisors, and he demanded they fund a lifestyle that was extravagant and extreme" with expenses including his own private island. But Depp's accused his former managers of "gross mismanagement."
Reps for Depp did not immediately comment.