H. A. Artists & Associates, Inc. v. Actors' Equity Assn.

PETITIONER: H. A. Artists & Associates, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Actors' Equity Assn.
LOCATION: 1980 Democratic National Convention, Madison Square Garden

DOCKET NO.: 80-348
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 451 US 704 (1981)
ARGUED: Mar 23, 1981
DECIDED: May 26, 1981

ADVOCATES:
Howard Breindel - on behalf of the Petitioners
Jerome B. Lurie - on behalf of the Respondents
Laurence Stephen Gold - on behalf of the AFL-CIO as amicus curiae

Facts of the case

Question

Media for H. A. Artists & Associates, Inc. v. Actors' Equity Assn.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 23, 1981 in H. A. Artists & Associates, Inc. v. Actors' Equity Assn.

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in H. A. Artists and Associates v. Actors' Equity.

Mr. Breindel, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Howard Breindel:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

This is a case which involves the very difficult and complex interplay of our federal antitrust laws which promote competition, our federal labor laws which tend to stifle competition, and a labor exemption which attempts to accommodate these conflicting laws.

There is very little dispute over the basic operative facts here.

Equity is a union whose 23,000 members include virtually every actor who is allowed to appear on the legitimate stage in the United States.

Petitioners are theatrical agents located in New York City.

They represent actors who belong to Actors' Equity.

Although they are independent contractors, the petitioners as agents perform services and in effect work for the actors who are members of Actor's Equity.

All of the petitioners are regulated and licensed as employment agencies under New York State law.

All are members of NATR, the National Association of Talent Representatives, a trade association of theatrical agents located in New York City.

TARA is a similar trade association of theatrical agents located in New York City.

The members of TARA compete with the members of NATR.

Most of the petitioners are very small agencies.

They employ no more than two or three agents and they very rarely represent stars.

TARA's members, on the other hand, include such industry giants as William Morris, and International Creative Management, each of whom alone employ approximately 200 agents.

They represent many, many stars and they very rarely get a job for one of their clients at a scale or minimum wage.

For the last 50 years or so Equity's franchising rules have been in effect.

The rules were last revised in October, 1977, pursuant to an agreement between Equity and TARA.

Equity and TARA's franchise rules provide that Equity members cannot deal with non-franchised agents, they provide the maximum commissions which Equity agents may charge, they provide the terms and conditions under which agents may charge commissions.

Agents may not charge commissions on a scale job, they may not charge commission on a chorus job, and they may not charge commission on rehearsal pay.

Byron R. White:

I gather then that if an agent all year long never got a job for any of his clients above scale he wouldn't make anything?

Howard Breindel:

That's correct, Your Honor.

Byron R. White:

And that isn't very likely, though, is it?

Howard Breindel:

It isn't very likely because most of the agents will also place actors in non-Equity jobs, but there are many petitioners who place a lot of actors in scale jobs; scale jobs predominate over non-scale jobs.

Byron R. White:

So, why will agents do that for nothing?

Howard Breindel:

Well, they will do it for nothing because the actors are their clients, they want to accommodate these actors, they hope that maybe some day an actor will become a star.

But the basic reason they do it for nothing is--

Byron R. White:

And then he'll be paid a good deal above scale and he could make up to ten percent?

Howard Breindel:

--If he stays with him.