Aviva Maloney, who first performed in The Monkees' touring band in 1996, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against The Monkees and Warner Music Group on Friday, April 1, 2016. Maloney was present for each successive Monkees concert tour until 2014. That spring, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork embarked on a short tour without Maloney in the lineup. She briefly returned to the backing band with her last appearances taking place in April 2015 in Rama, Ontario, Canada.
The complaint alleges that Maloney was replaced by a younger woman with no apparent disabilities, which seemingly refers to Circe Link, who accompanied The Monkees onstage for the first time in 2014. The suit states that Maloney was fired over the phone by Wayne Avers, who has acted as The Monkees' musical director and guitarist since 1996.
Here is the text of the Hollywood Reporter article regarding the lawsuit, which was published late this evening on their website:
A 57-year-old woman who toured with the band for nearly two decades says she was fired because she did not look good on stage and fell asleep at a rehearsal, according to the lawsuit.
An ex-musician for The Monkees says she was fired in a four-minute phone call after playing with the band for nearly 20 years and later was told it was because she didn't look good on stage, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday.
Aviva Maloney is suing Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, two founding members of The Monkees, Warner Music Group and others involved with the band's tours for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate disability and wrongful termination, among other claims.
Maloney, 57, plays saxophone, clarinet, keyboards and other instruments and says she was the first female member of the band when she joined them on their 30th Anniversary Tour in 1996.
She says she's been described as Davy Jones' best friend, and after his death in 2012, defendants gradually reduced her role in the band "because of her legally protected characteristics" including her age, sex and disabilities.
A few days after she was fired in 2015 by musical director Wayne Avers, Maloney claims Tork told her husband that she should join Overeaters Anonymous because she was eating to resolve emotional problems and didn't look good on stage. She claims Tork also complained that she didn't wear makeup on stage and had fallen asleep at rehearsal.
Maloney says she was diagnosed with lupus, which causes fatigue, and rheumatoid arthritis in 2003 and defendants knew of her illnesses because they were like family.
"Defendants failed to recognize that Plaintiff's falling asleep at a rehearsal, if it happened, may have been a symptom of her disabilities, warranting reasonable accommodation," states the lawsuit.
Her replacement is a woman under 40 years of age with no real or imagined disabilities, according to the complaint, which Maloney says is proof she was fired in substantial part because of her illness and age.
Additionally, Maloney claims defendants intentionally misclassified her as an exempt employee to avoid paying overtime and she wasn't paid what she was owed at the time she was fired.
She's suing for restitution, past and future lost wages and statutory and punitive damages.
Representatives of the band and WMG have not yet commented on the lawsuit.
Here's a photograph of Davy Jones and Aviva Maloney performing at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida on June 6, 2011.
In Memoriam: Michael Nesmith
Dolenz sings Nesmith - The EP