Former ‘Hamilton’ musical director sues producers, Chicago Federation of Musicians over firing

Colin Welford, a “world-renowned” conductor from the United Kingdom, claims the union failed to represent him during the investigation and his eventual termination — even though he had paid more than $100,000 in union dues.

SHARE Former ‘Hamilton’ musical director sues producers, Chicago Federation of Musicians over firing
Colin Welford, the former musical director of “Hamilton” in Chicago claims in a lawsuit filed Nov. 29, 2019, he was unjustly fired by the show’s producers.

Colin Welford, the former musical director of “Hamilton” in Chicago claims in a lawsuit filed Nov. 29, 2019, he was unjustly fired by the show’s producers after the Chicago Federation of Musicians allegedly abandoned him during an investigation into alleged wrongdoing.

Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

The former musical director of “Hamilton” in Chicago claims in a lawsuit he was unjustly fired by the show’s producers after the Chicago Federation of Musicians allegedly abandoned him during an investigation into alleged wrongdoing.

Colin Welford, a “world-renowned” conductor from the United Kingdom, claims the union failed to represent him during the investigation and his eventual termination in May — even though he paid more than $100,000 in union dues, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Chicago.

He is suing the Chicago Federation of Musicians and Eliza Tour LLC, which runs Hamilton in Chicago, for breach of contract and violating the Illinois wage payment act.

Colin Welford

Colin Welford

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He is seeking more than a year of lost wages as he’s been on unpaid leave since July 2018.

According to the lawsuit, the Chicago Federation of Musicians claimed Welford was in a supervisory position and not subject to union representation. But the lawsuit contends that Welford was not a supervisor, and was owed union representation since he was a due-paying member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, Local 10-2018.

The lawsuit alleges that Welford asked for union representation before a July 2018 disciplinary meeting with “Hamilton” producers, but that request was rebuffed.

The union “advised Mr. Welford that it was best for Mr. Welford to simply submit to Hamilton Producers’ disciplinary meeting and course of conduct despite not having any notice of any alleged wrongdoing or intended disciplinary action,” the lawsuit states.

Welford obtained his own legal counsel once he was told he was the subject of an investigation into wrongdoing, the lawsuit states.

More than three months before he was fired, “the Union reiterated its position that it believed it was not required to act on Mr. Welford’s behalf as it related to his employment at the Hamilton workplace in Chicago ...” the lawsuit states.

Welford was told two days later that the investigation found he had not engaged in any wrongdoing, but he was fired on May 30, the lawsuit states. It is unclear why Welford was being investigated.

Eliza Tour LLC could not be reached for comment.

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