Jimmy Dore's 'Very Pro-Employer' Work Contracts
An independent contractor agreement used by the YouTuber’s production company reveals anti-worker provisions
Popular YouTube personality and comedian Jimmy Dore, who presents himself as a champion of labor and the working class, had contractors sign a harsh labor agreement in the summer of 2020, documents obtained by Important Context reveal.
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The 57-year-old Dore originally rose to national prominence within progressive circles due to his decade-long affiliation with The Young Turks (TYT) YouTube channel. There, he became known as one of the loudest, most passionate proponents of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. However, his online star has risen since striking out on his own in 2019. Today, he boasts more than a million YouTube subscribers and over 433,000 Twitter followers. He has appeared on cable news and the podcasts of Joe Rogan and Russell Brand. In 2020 Dore was reportedly able to purchase a $1.9 million, 2,800-square-foot compound in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley.
According to the YouTube analytics site SocialBlade, Dore’s average monthly subscriber growth surged in 2022, more than doubling the monthly average from the previous year. The increase coincides with the comedian’s full-bore embrace of conspiracy theories. For example, Dore has suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic is an excuse for economic elites to engineer greater social control; that the vaccines are a Big Pharma scam and actually increase susceptibility to the virus; that the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was a homosexual lovers’ quarrel; that federal law enforcement helped facilitate the January 6 Capitol insurrection in 2021; that the arrest of youth climate activist Greta Thunberg in Germany last month may have been staged.
The core of Dore’s appeal, however, stems from his reputation as a bare-knuckles populist; a pugilistic, truth-telling everyman willing to hold all sides accountable on behalf of workers—especially Democrats. With a learn-as-you-go approach to news, the YouTuber has spent years raging against the machine, bemoaning the ills of ‘sellout’ politicians, journalists, corporations, and capitalism.
In a December live stream, for example, Dore huffed about how President Biden and congressional Democrats had leveraged the 1926 Railway Labor Act to prevent a rail strike before the holidays, imposing an unpopular labor agreement on the workers that lacked any paid sick days. In typical Dore fashion, he ignored the fact that Republicans co-signed the deal and had even lobbied for a worse contract just weeks earlier.
”So Joe Biden and the Democrats—Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, The Squad—they voted to screw you,” Dore told his viewers, adding that a labor strike “would have set the tone for labor in the country.”
“Labor is winning,” he said.
But documents obtained by Important Context reveal that labor is not necessarily winning at Dore’s own show. An independent contractor agreement, which was used by Dore’s production company, 4 Dore Productions (4DP), in the summer of 2020, contains several harsh provisions that disadvantage workers, including forced arbitration. Former friends and colleagues of Dore’s told Important Context that the agreement was not out of character for the comedian.
The agreement from 4DP includes clauses that are very protective of the company and Dore, legal experts told Important Context.
The document contains a thorough, nine-part, three-page-long confidentiality section effectively prohibiting contractors from discussing anything they learned about Dore, his wife, or their collaborators on the job including details about their business, personal lives, finances, investments, and more.
The agreement is a stark departure from Dore’s public commentary. In the past, Dore criticized former president Trump’s use of confidentiality agreements with volunteers, calling them “very right-wingy.”
“If those people want to do that—you are a volunteer and you want to do that—again, you’re just a moron,” Dore cracked. “If you want to play in traffic, I guess I can’t stop you either. Like, go ahead.”
The consequences for workers who breach Dore’s confidentiality section—or another extensive section requiring contractors to sign away rights to their work product—can be severe under the agreement. Breaches and even threatened breaches constitute “immediate and irreparable harm,” entitling Dore’s company to equitable (nonmonetary) relief, meaning contractors could be ordered to refrain from the activity. The agreement further stipulates that breaches entitle Dore’s company to liquidated damages, which are agreed-upon damages for failing to meet a specific contractual obligation, in the amount of $10,000 per breach.
These provisions are “the hallmark of a very pro-employer employment contract, ”Alan Hyde, a distinguished professor and Sidney Reitman Scholar at Rutgers Law School, told Important Context. Hyde noted that the provisions were of dubious enforceability—particularly the liquidated damages clause due to its high dollar figure.
”They have to be reasonable forecasts, at the time of contracting, of the harm, which this one isn’t because it’s $10,000 irrespective of what the harm is.”
Philip Harvey, a Law and Economics professor also at Rutgers Law School, agreed that Dore’s contract was heavily tilted in favor of himself, calling it “very employer-friendly.” Harvey told Important Context Dore’s attorney had been clever, drafting a contract with a financial amount that was high enough to disincentivize minor breaches of confidentiality, like being “loose-lipped at a bar,” but low enough for courts to allow in the event of major breaches, like writing a best-selling book containing personal details about Dore.
The 4DP contractor agreement includes forced arbitration for disputes except in certain circumstances like union busting. In arbitration, parties submit disputes and claims to a chosen arbitrator—in this case, one affiliated with the American Arbitration Association—rather than going through the courts.
Although common in many work contracts, sometimes preferred in union workplaces, and often faster than litigation, arbitration can present obstacles to relief for workers. For example, it deprives workers of their ability to be heard by a jury. The 4DP contract spells this out explicitly, stating, “The Parties understand that by signing this Agreement, they give up their rights to a civil trial in a court of law and waive their right to a trial by jury.”
“Juries have jobs and they know that bosses overreach,” Hyde told Important Context. “Arbitration is much more favorable for employers—they can keep it secret; they don't have to have publicity; they don't have to face a jury.”
Once a decision has been rendered by an arbitrator, workers have little recourse. As the National Association of Consumer Advocates warns, “Arbitrators aren't required to take the law and legal precedent into account in making their decisions. There is no appeal or public review of decisions to ensure the arbitrator got it right.”
Arbitrators are notoriously pro-employer. A 2021 study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) revealed that in 2019, forced arbitration in the U.S. allowed private-sector employers to keep more than $9.27 billion in wages owed to non-union workers making less than $13 an hour. A study from 2015 from the Economic Policy Institute, meanwhile, found that workers were roughly half as likely to prevail against their employers in arbitration as they were in litigation, and, even then, the awards were only about one-fifth as high.
Arbitration can also be expensive. Harvey called the arbitration clause “the provision that is most unfavorable to the subcontractor,” noting that under the terms of the agreement, the costs of arbitrating are shared between the parties, and the prevailing party is entitled to attorneys’ fees.
“First, the fee for an American Arbitration Association arbitration is not peanuts—I don't know what it is lately; I haven't looked, but divided by two parties, it's probably going to be a couple of thousand dollars,” Harvey said.
“That's just for start,” he added. “Then the arbitrator has to be compensated on the basis usually of a daily charge, and that daily charge may be $800, $1,000 a day divided by two…now add your lawyer's fees to that.”
‘A Day In The Life Of Working With Jimmy Dore’
Former friends and colleagues of Dore’s told Important Context that they were not surprised by the mismatch between the comedian’s rhetoric and the employer-friendly provisions in 4DP agreement.
“I don’t think he’s grounded in ideology, so I don’t think he views treating all workers the same way I would,” said fellow comedian Dave Anthony, a former longtime friend of Dore’s.
Dan Evans, a former TYT associate producer who worked on Dore’s show, “Aggressive Progressives,” offered up a similar diagnosis, explaining, “he is not really that ideological” but “knows a couple of his buzzwords” and ”knows how to do his canned rants that he's been doing for almost a decade at this point.”
“I mean, that sort of contract lines up with the kind of person who may have had issues with workers in the past and wants to protect themselves,” Evans said. “But in like, broader context, this is a person who causes issues with people he works with.”
Evans told Important Context that he had a number of run-ins with the comedian at TYT and described him as a “wild card” who was “prone to temper issues and like flying off the handle.” Evans said Dore would “kind of expect producers to be on his like beck and call in a certain way.”
“He would yell at folks,” Evans explained.
He described one incident in which the comedian got into an on-air shouting match with another host over YouTube’s removal of Alex Jones—Dore disapproved of the removal. According to Evans, Dore was “popping in the veins, like yelling at the top of his voice” and refused to cut to break.
“I literally just walked into the studio and shouted over him that we're going to break and then we cut the cameras,” he said. “That's a day in the life of working with Jimmy Dore.”
Last April, Dore recalled the events as an example of his former TYT colleagues not listening to him.
Evans also told Important Context that Dore made his colleagues—particularly his women colleagues—uncomfortable with his temper and “sexually weird remarks,” noting that sometimes “it felt like he was doing crowd work in a comedy club.”
“He was like riffing off people's appearances to entertain an audience,” Evans said.
One target of Dore’s was TYT host and journalism professor Ana Kasparian, who told Important Context that Dore is “very insecure” and “cannot stand women who have strong opinions or a strong voice.” She called Dore a “massive fraud” and said he treated her and TYT producers poorly.
Dore has publicly boasted about ‘humiliating’ Kasparian with a comment about her “inappropriate” clothing. In retelling his story, Dore proudly proclaimed that he does not have a human resources department. Kasparian has a different recollection of Dore’s remark, telling Important Context he’d actually commented on her “sexy” legs on the day she’d brought her students in to tour the studio.
“I'm pretty young at that time…and it was really, really important for me to be taken seriously by the students—especially because it was the first time I was teaching at the university level,” Kasparian told Important Context. “And I think the reason why he made a comment about my ‘sexy’ legs in front of the students was because he wanted to undo any respect that I earned with them.”
Cenk Uygur, TYT’s founder and CEO, confirmed for Important Context that Dore’s conflicts with his colleagues and producers were a factor in the split that occurred between the company and the YouTuber in 2019.
Anthony told Important Context that “Jimmy was always fairly nice to everyone when we were friends” and in his experience, the YouTuber had not displayed a temper. However, he acknowledged that Dore had changed over the years.
Dore did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
This piece has been updated for clarity. A previous version incorrectly asserted SocialBlade’s data indicated that much of Dore’s audience growth had occurred since the latter half of 2021. The language now correctly reflects that Dore’s monthly average subscriber growth increased from 2021 to 2022.